UNM’s media briefings in various parts of the country aimed at speaking out against, what the opposition party calls, halted infrastructure projects under GD coalition government, were confronted by activists of the GD and groups affiliated with the authorities.
Events, which UNM said were part of its campaigning ahead of the June 15 local elections, were accompanied by parallel rallies of opposing groups at the same venues in Tbilisi, Telavi, Tskaltubo and Anaklia.
In Anaklia, Samegrelo region, verbal exchange between the two opposing groups grew into scuffles and in Telavi pro-government activists, after verbally confronting UNM figures, pelted cars carrying UNM representatives, among them MP Levan Bezhashvili, with eggs.
In Tbilisi suburb, Nika Melia, UNM’s mayoral candidate in the capital city, was confronted by a pro-government group, called Youth Center; the incident involved verbal altercation. The same group is often holding protest rallies outside UNM headquarters in Tbilisi; for several times its activists sprayed with paint walls of the UNM’s headquarters.
A briefing in Batumi, which was led by one of UNM leaders, Gigi Ugulava, was held without incident, like similar event in Mtskheta, but Ugulava was confronted later on the same day, when a small group of pro-government activists bombarded him with eggs as he was leaving Constructional Court building in Batumi; in the Constitutional Court Ugulava attended a hearing into his lawsuit in which he wants a provision allowing the court to sack an accused official without hearing oral arguments to be deemed unconstitutional.
UNM said in a statement that government-orchestrated attacks thwarted its campaign events at various locations. It also said these incidents indicate that the opposition party is under government surveillance as otherwise the authorities’ could not have known about UNM’s planned events.
“The April 10 attacks are yet another demonstration of the Georgian Dream government’s tactic, which is built on repressions and violence. Thwarting of pre-election campaign events with physical attacks is incompatible with democratic governance. If the authorities restrict through such dirty and illegal methods possibility for the opposition party to run its pre-election campaign, local elections cannot be assessed as free and fair. This will cause a serious damage to our country’s reputation and Euro-Atlantic foreign policy course,” UNM said in the statement.
Later on April 10 the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia, a leading party in the GD coalition, said in a written statement that it distances itself from these incidents. The party said it is “inadmissible to express aggression, accumulated in the public, through violent means.”