UNM secretary general, Vano Merabishvili, said that recent allegations voiced against him by his former allies was a result of their failure “to withstand pressure” and suggested that these were part of the authorities’ attempts to discredit UNM leadership ahead of outdoor rally planned for April 19 in Tbilisi center.
“Authorities’ feeble efforts, which were expected for us, to discredit National Movement and to sow seeds of discord within UNM ahead of the April 19 rally will bear no fruit,” Merabishvili told journalists on April 17.
Asked about allegations voiced by former UNM MP Marika Verulashvili and accusations purportedly leveled by former senior interior ministry official Data Akhalaia, Merabishvili responded: “Unfortunately many of my friends failed to resist pressure, blackmailing and I can only regret about it. But the core team of the National Movement is firm and they [current government] will fail to terrorize majority of them.”
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“I will withstand this kind of challenges, because I love my country and no matter how strong the pressure will be, I will fight for the future of my family, my friends and my country,” Merabishvili said.
Asked against about the allegations by former allies, Merabishvili responded: “There might be people who will fail to withstand various temptations, pressure or blackmailing, but the core team of the UNM we remain together, because resistance makes us even stronger.”
“Of course it is regrettable when your friend fails to withstand pressure, but I want to forgive them because they simply failed to withstand the pressure. But I am very happy that majority of our friends stand beside us and continue struggle together with us,” he said.
Merabishvili said that the government “is very much afraid” of the planned April 19 rally and accused the authorities of creating obstacles to holding of “mass rally” in the capital city’s main thoroughfare, Rustaveli Avenue. A local activist of UNM in Kutaisi claimed on April 17 that he was attacked and beaten up by unknown men who were telling him not to go at the planned rally in Tbilisi.
“The government will see that April 19 will make the National Movement even stronger, more efficient and more motivated,” Merabishvili said. “The United National Movement will press the government to serve the people, otherwise it will lose power and those progressive forces will come into power, whose major goal is development of the country and not fighting opponents.”