Chairman of Saakashvili’s opposition UNM leaves party
The head of the main opposition party in Georgia, the United National Movement, Grigol Vashadze, has announced his departure from the party.
He referred to divisions within the party and a “campaign of attacks and insults against diplomatic missions.”
“I decided to resign from all positions and leave the party. This step will be extremely difficult for me, but I see no other way out,” Vashadze wrote on Facebook.
The leader of the UNM is the former president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, who is currently in Ukraine. However, Saakashvili was deprived of his Georgian citizenship and cannot lead a political organization in Georgia. Grigol Vashadze was elected chairman of the party in 2019.
Vashadze names several reasons for leaving the party:
● Some party leaders make decisions without consulting party members;
● The party has no strategy;
● Around and within the party, odious figures “have long been in the ranks”
● A campaign of attacks and insults against the ambassadors of strategic partner countries, “which it is not clear who started and for what purpose.”
“This is the biggest damage to Georgia’s relations with the US, the European Union and EU member states. It seems that the participants in this campaign have never heard that an attack on an ambassador is the same as an attack on that state,” wrote Grigol Vashadze.
Vashadze says that for these reasons he will not be able to continue working in the National Movement.
Vashadze also notes that he cannot be “where I do not see the opportunity and desire to learn from mistakes.”
At the end of his post on Facebook, Vashadze turned to journalists and said that he was not going to give more detailed explanations and interviews.
Grigol Vashadze, a former foreign minister in the government of President Saakashvili from 2008-2012, was a presidential candidate from the United National Movement in the 2018 presidential elections, when the candidate for power Salome Zurabishvili was ahead of Vashadze by only 0.91 percent.
Does Vashadze want to be in parliament?
Vashadze’s Facebook statement did not mention the most important issue on the current political agenda – the issue of joining or not joining the new parliament.
Vashadze did not say whether he intends to give up his mandate, as did his party comrades and the majority of the elected opposition MPs – in protest against what they say were fraudulent elections on 31 October.
Grigol Vashadze is the second in the list of the United National Movement – United Opposition bloc after the singer Buba Kikabidze. At the request of the bloc, the Central Election Commission has already officially canceled the electoral lists of opposition parties, but the already elected MPs can, if they wish, keep their seats.
Shortly after the elections, Vashadze took a stance different from that of his teammates – in early November, when the opposition organized protests against election fraud, Vashadze issued a statement urging political parties to abandon street rallies and move the process to the negotiating table.
This event confirmed the split between Vashadze and other leaders of the United National Movement.
On December 11, Grigol Vashadze also did not attend the opposition rally, at which the opposition members of the Georgian parliament confirmed their refusal by signing a memorandum.
“National Movement” – a traditional split after the elections
This is the second time that UNM members have left the National Movement after the parliamentary elections.
After the parliamentary elections on October 8, 2016, disagreements arose within the party, which led to the passage to parliament and participation in the second round. As a result of this disagreement, the party split into two parts.
One section, led by former President Mikheil Saakashvili, believes that the party should be banned from entering parliament and participating in the second round. Another part (including the former secretary of security Giga Bokeria) stated that the rejection of the won mandates and the boycott of the second round would be a step towards the party’s marginalization.
Who is Grigol Vashadze?
Vashadze is a graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO). In the late 1980s, he worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union.
He completed his diplomatic career in the early 1990s, after which he continued to live in Moscow, started a private business and at the same time became the impresario of his wife Nino Ananiashvili, the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow.
In 2004, Nino Ananiashvili became the head of the ballet troupe of the Georgian Opera and Ballet Theater at the invitation of the then President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili. In the same year, he received dual citizenship and a Georgian passport. Grigol Vashadze returned to Georgia with his wife.
In November 2008, Grigol Vashadze was appointed Minister of Culture and Sports of Georgia. In December of the same year, he became the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia. At that time, Vashadze was a citizen of Georgia and Russia simultaneously, therefore he was criticized by the opposition and part of society.