TBILISI, DFWatch–National Movement delegates left the suit and tie at home Wednesday and instead showed up in parliament wearing white t-shirts with the slogan ‘no to annexation’ to protest the government’s ‘loyal attitude to Russia’.
The party has accused the new government of being pro-Russian since the Georgian Dream coalition was formed in 2011, and before that often used the same rhetoric against other political opponents.
In the Georgian Dream coalition it found a target in its father billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made most of his fortune in Russia. Ivanishvili said in September 2012 that he had sold all his assets there, a month before the parliamentary election brought him to power.
The National Movement stepped up its rhetoric after the prime minister last week fired Defense Minister Irakli Alasania, by many regarded as the most pro-western member of government, and his departure was followed by the resignation of two more ministers politically close to Alasania.
The UNM thinks the government is planning to change its foreign policy course and is loyal to Russia. But Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili has assured that the policy of seeking membership in NATO and the European Union is unchanged.
The National Movement claims he is a puppet for Ivanishvili, who retired a year ago, but many believe is still pulling the strings.
November 15, the party is planning a demonstration against ‘the government’s inaction’ and Russia’s annexation of two breakaway regions.
While the party was in government it often accused its critics of being Russian spies, but despite incriminating leaked telephone calls being aired on TV, charges were never brought against any politician, not even Nino Burjanadze who provoked many Georgians’ ire by meeting Putin.
The National Movement’s hunt for Russian-leaning sympathies also has a darker side. In 2011, four photojournalists were charged with spying under dubious circumstances, a case which the European Federation of Journalists expressed concern about.
Several former officials during the National Movement government are currently on trial for torturing and killing a ranger assumed to be Russian spy in the aftermath of the 2008 war.