Victorious Georgia – Ex-Minister Okruashvili’s New Political party

Irakli Okruashvili, who held different posts during the United National Movement (UNM) government, has presented his new political party, named Victorious Georgia, which is made up of 17 people.

At the presentation on Tuesday, the former Minister of Defense and Interior Affairs said his team has the ambition to set up a big movement of “many angry people” who think that there is an unbearable situation in the country.

The party includes former member of the opposition National Forum party, Gubaz Sanikidze, former chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia Kote Kemularia, Valeri Gelbakhiani, former lawmaker, comedian actor Nika Ramishvili (Drupi), Guram Chalagashvili, ex-head of the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission, and others.

Former official Okruashvili said his party will cooperate with any member of the ruling party Georgian Dream who will oppose GD Chair and founder Bidzina Ivanishvili.

“From today, we are going to work on the organizational structure in Tbilisi. We are going to the regions in July and we will go to every village and street and from house to house to make people see that changes are necessary,” he said, adding their party door is open to any force that opposes Ivanishvili’s regime.

Several days before the party presentation, Okruashvili said “nothing good is happening in the country” and this is the reason he decided to come back to politics.

“The only good change I saw during the last seven years is the prohibition of smoking in closed and public areas…Nothing else…The silence of people like me equals a crime today. We need change,” he told Palitranews.

He also criticized the cabinet members, saying he would be a good tutor for them and teach them how to rule the country.

“The only thing the ministers do is compete with each other in doing nonsense…I am thinking of becoming a tutor and training them. I would start with Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia,” he stated.

Okruashvili served at various important posts in the Government of Georgia under ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, including Minister of Defense from December 2004 until he was dismissed in November 2006.

In September 2007, Okruashvili staged a scandalous comeback to Georgian politics, openly confronting Mikheil Saakashvili and creating the opposition party Movement for United Georgia. On September 27, 2007, Okruashvili was arrested at his party headquarters on charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of office. In 2007, he left Georgia and was granted political asylum in France. He was sentenced to an 11-year prison term in Georgia in absentia in March 2008.

He came back to Georgia after the GD won the parliamentary elections in 2012, but was arrested again and released on January 11, 2013.

Some opposition parties are thinking about cooperating with Okruashvili, among them the UNM. Member Roman Gotsiridze says it is very good for Georgian democracy when new parties emerge opposing Ivanishvili. UNM member Salome Samadashvili stated, “it is important to confront Bidzina Ivanishvili with united forces and force him to change the game rules in the country.”

However, former members of the UNM, who formed the European Georgia party in 2017, have said they are not going to cooperate with the new party.

One of the leaders, Giga Bokeria, stressed they will never cooperate with those political leaders and figures “who visit Moscow or participate in Kremlin propaganda or preach hate and violence.”

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze stated that “the Georgian people will respond to each political party during the 2020 parliamentary elections.” He noted it is not right to make any comments about Okruashvili’s statements.

GD’s majoritarian MP Lado Kakhadze also says it is early to evaluate Okruashvili’s party.

“Let us wait and see their program, and afterwards we can make comments,” he said.

By Thea Morrison

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13 June 2019 18:48