Ruling Georgian Dream party stages large rally with supporters from regions
However, the opposition claims that the real purpose of the rally was the authorities’ desire to demonstrate that they have great support in the country.
The Ombudsman of Georgia also confirmed that thousands of state employees were delivered from the regions to Tbilisi by buses in a compulsory manner.
The rally has been framed by the opposition as a response to the rallies of activists that began in the summer and pick up again last month.
Tens of thousands of people stood on Freedom Square in Tbilisi with the state flag of Georgia, аs well as banners of the ruling Georgian Dream and the European Union.
Many had posters with the words ‘the Way of Georgia is to Europe.’
After the rally, a concert took place.
On November 27, 2019, the Georgian state took up the presidency of the Council of Europe. Rotation occurs in alphabetical order, every six months. In six months, Georgia will transfer the presidency of the Council of Europe to Greece.
In his speech, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said that the country has never been as close to Europe as it is now, and held up the EU visa-free travel regime as proof.
“This we achieved together with our leader Bidzina Ivanishvili,” emphasized Giorgi Gakharia.
Bidzina Ivanishvili himself, the leader of the ruling party and a billionaire who is considered the shadow ruler of the country, also spoke at the event.
He spoke of the difficult legacy inherited from the previous government, referring to the time of the reign of President Mikheil Saakashvili and the United National Movement between 2003-2012.
“The Georgian Dream party managed to overcome the negative consequences of the rule of the United National Movement and today Georgia is actually a member of the European family,” Gakharia said.
During the speeches of the leaders of the Georgian Dream, video clips were shown on a specially mounted large monitor that narrated Georgia’s path to the presidency of the Council of Europe. Observers noted that in these videos there was no mention of the success of the state during the presidency of Saakashvili.
Opposition accuses authorities of busing in supporters
The opposition has accused the authorities of forcibly bringing thousands of state employees from the regions to Tbilisi.
This was also stated by public defender Nino Lomdzharia.
She said that she received such information from almost all regions: employees of budgetary organizations were threatened with problems at work if they refused to travel to Tbilisi.
A group of influential non-governmental organizations issued a joint statement protesting against such actions by the authorities.
The arrival of people from the regions was organized – free minibuses and buses were allocated for this purpose.
All of these numerous vehicles were parked all day near the Freedom Square, where the rally took place, and created transportation problems.
In addition, to hold the rally, the police blocked several streets in the center of Tbilisi, paralyzing transport links in this part of the city.
To ensure a large turnout, the authorities announced free metro travel from Freedom Square station, the nearest metro venue.