Nino Burjanadze addresses protesters outside the public broadcaster on May 23, telling them that the ongoing rallies should not let the authorities to “quietly” and “comfortably” hold a military parade on May 26. Photo: Guram Muradov/Civil.ge
Nino Burjanadze, ex-parliamentary speaker who leads the ongoing protests, told the rally outside the public broadcaster on Monday, that they should not allow authorities to “quietly” and “comfortably” hold a military parade, planned for May 26 to mark Georgia’s Independence Day.
“The People’s Assembly will spare no efforts in order not to let these authorities to review the parade quietly; this is a matter of our dignity,” she said.
Burjanadze said that an executive council of the People’s Assembly, which leads the ongoing protests, had decided to maintain current protest venue outside the public broadcaster on the Kostava Street as a main focal point till May 25.
At noon on May 25, Burjanadze said, the protesters would march from the Kostava Street towards the Freedom Square “in order not to let the authorities hold the parade on May 26 quietly”.
“We will march from here towards the Freedom Square and I assure you that the President will not review the parade quietly… We will force these authorities to go and we will gain the possibility for holding free and democratic elections,” Burjanadze said.
The military parade to mark the Independence Day is planned to be held on Rustaveli Avenue, outside the Parliament building in an immediate vicinity to the Freedom Square.
Georgian troops march on the Rustaveli Avenue overnight on May 18 in rehearsal of the military parade planned for May 26 to mark the Independence Day. Photo: Georgian MoD.
“We are taking peaceful, democratic actions, but actions, which are sharp and very serious and which need the support of a large number of people. That is why we are waiting for more of our supporters [to join],” Burjanadze said.
Turnout at the rally was far fewer on May 22 and May 23 than it was on the first day of the protest on May 21 on the Freedom Square.
Before making this announcement she told the rally that information had become available from “a very reliable source”, which she did not specify, that “the Georgian army has categorically rejected an offer to, in case of necessity, raise a hand against the people.”
In separate remarks Burjanadze told journalists: “I am absolutely sure that the army will not participate in the actions against the people and as in Egypt the army will act with honor and the people will act with care.”
She also said that that on May 26 the rally would be present at the venue of the planned military parade.
“That presence is more than enough,” Burjanadze added.
Protesters outside the public broadcaster applaud as Burjanadze announces about the plan to relocate the current protest venue from the Kostava Street to the Freedom Square at noon on May 25 to then “not to let the authorities to quietly review the parade” on May 26. Photo: Guram Muradov/Civil.ge
Also at noon on May 25 the Georgian Party also plans a rally as part of “the Day of Rage to put an end to the Saakashvili’s regime”. The Georgian Party, however, plans the gathering at a separate location – on Avlabari Square. The presidential palace is located close to that square.
Avlabari Square is less than two kilometers away from the Freedom Square, where Burjanadze said the People’s Assembly would gather on May 25.
In separate remarks Burjanadze told journalists that the People’s Assembly and its decision to hold rally on Freedom Square was “coordinated” with the Georgian Party.
“We have a coordinated communication and this coordination will continue,” she said of the Georgian Party, which announced about the decision to join the People’s Assembly rallies on May 22.
Ex-defense minister and co-founder of the Georgian Party, Irakli Okruashvili, has called on the Georgian army “to stand beside the people” on May 25, when his party plans to, as he put it, “hit a final blow to the Saakashvili’s regime.”
“On May 25 we will be standing on the one side of the barricade and there will be Saakashvili’s gang on the other side,” Okruashvili said. “They [the army] should make a choice where they will be standing; they can’t be neutral in that situation and I want to request them to make a choice in favor of the Georgian people their choice will decide the fate of Georgia.”