Misha founded the United National Movement (UNM) and has headed it nonstop, even in the era of his much talked about containment by the current Georgian government, who defeated the ambitiously complacent Saakashvili ten years ago in sensational but absolutely fair and square elections. Let’s call it ‘containment’, as ‘imprisonment’ would not be the right word to describe the current living condition of Georgia’s third president, because he is doing time not in jail but in the deluxe state-of-the-art ward of a first class private clinic. This is not the right time or place to say whether this is fair or not. Let’s leave the issue on the level of a sheer and accepted fact.
The famous prisoner has become the talk of the day and town, but the bigger talk right now is the upcoming elections within the party he founded and nursed. The picture is grotesquely laughable if not deplorable: The father of the famous United National Movement is immobilized and has no access to candidacy for the leader of the party, for the justified reasons that be. Instead, some unlikely figures (call them political if you wish) are literally bending over backwards to squeeze themselves into the still cherished position of Party Chairman.
Unless the number is confused, there are three people out there running for the job like crazy, having totally forgotten such notions as political unity, the consolidated struggle against a mutual foe, brotherhood, shared party spirit, common ideals, collective actions and joint efforts. All of them have momentarily shifted from friendship and cooperation to confrontational political platforms, each taking a stand that has never been their party style and gusto. One can easily imagine what is going on in Misha’s imagination if he can see his now wounded and crippled party’s prospects and perspectives.
Both his personal and his supporters’ obvious frustration towards the model of the moribund UNM’s behavior has several reasons. The first and foremost is the annoying inability to drive people out of their houses and put them in the street as a force that will send a message to our people and its government that the time has come to change something in the nation’s life. The second, just as important, is the crystallized impotence of the party to get their beleaguered natural leader out of his long-term confinement, induced for certain politically criminal actions. The third, no less solid reason of disappointment, is that the UNM has practically no effect on the hearts and minds of our people aside from a still hopeful bunch of old dedicated hailers of the slowly but surely disappearing National Movement. Yes, trust is gone, and the power of persuasion is no longer in place to trigger said disillusionment. The last reason for the rampant disenchantment is the absence of political acumen to come up with a solid, professionally laid-out plan of action in case of their hardly likely but still imaginable win in the future national election, that was hoped to be a snap one last year, but never took place.
On a personal level, the overall public irritation is based on the fact that the once life-size Mikheil Saakashvili has been and is going to once again be substituted by those amusingly trying wannabes who are tragicomically dwarfed by even the imprisoned man, for whom life has proved to be absolutely indispensable as the leader of the Movement he once conceived, created, worked with and abandoned.
The three potential UNM leaders, full of hope to be elected, will likely strengthen the realization that the political life within this nation will neither be better nor worse off, whether the National Movement continues its existence or not. The most optimally prognosticated diagnosis would say that life will carry on as usual with or without the party, a party that has never before been at the doorstep of such a heartbreaking loss. But, as the French would put it: C’est la vie!
Op-Ed by Nugzar B. Ruhadze