Can Georgian opposition organize Rose Revolution 2.0?
On June 10, a "national protest rally" will be held in front of the parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi. This decision was made on Monday at a meeting of opposition organizations led by Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement (UNM) party. Later, one of the UNM leaders, Nika Melia, explained that announcing the "national rally" was the opposition's response to "the arrogant refusal of the authorities to fairly investigate the murder of two schoolchildren" on December 1 of last year.
The father of one of the killed teenagers Zaza Saralidze claims that the prosecutor's office, hence the government, "cover" his son's killers. In this case, two senior high school students were sentenced to long prison terms, but not for killing 16-year-old David Saralidze, but for "attempting to deprive him of his life." That is, the court acknowledged that the investigation could not establish which of the dozens of teenagers who participated in the mass brawl on Horava Street caused a fatal wound to David.
The murder on Horava street has acquired a political significance after it became known that one of the participants in the fight was the son of prosecutor Mirza Subeliani. Perhaps, he uses his influence in the prosecutor's office to hide the truth and prevent the just punishment of perpetrators. Well-founded assumptions about malicious injustice brought tens of thousands of people to the streets of Tbilisi. The spontaneous rally under the slogan "Do not kill me!" started as a civil, apolitical protest, but Zaza Saralidze, who initially opposed "politicization," asked the opposition parties for help, saying: "It is impossible to achieve a fair investigation and trial under the current authorities, and they can be changed only with the help of the opposition and the broad protest movement."
Under the word "opposition" in modern Georgia, they mean the UNM and Mikhail Saakashvili. Only this political force has enough resources to mobilize tens of thousands of supporters. The former president himself, although living in the Netherlands, monitors the situation in his homeland and influences them not only through his party and thousands of loyal activists, but also with the help of the Rustavi 2 (R2) TV channel, which is the most popular in the country. In November 2003, this television company played a decisive role in the victory of the Rose Revolution and the coming to power of Mikhail Saakashvili. Now the R2 journalistic staff and its leader Nika Gvaramia, judging by their statements, comments and editorial policy, are not less determined.
But will these resources be enough to organize a new revolution by forcing pressure "from the street" on the authorities and forcing them to capitulate using at least the Yerevan model, when the ruling party was forced to appoint the main opposition figure, Nikol Pashinyan, as the country's prime minister?
There is no other constitutional way to change the government. The basic law of Georgia forbids the president to convene special parliamentary elections six months before the expiration of presidential powers, and the country's next presidential election will be held in October.
But if the Georgian Dream ruling party - a bit "strengthened" after its founder, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili returned to the big politics - refuses to accept the resignation of its government, and Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili does not voluntarily resign, unlike Serzh Sargsyan, then all the opposition can do is to organize a Rose Revolution 2.0: breaking into the parliament like on November 22, 2003, and driving out all those sitting there except for the parliamentary opposition and frightened majority neutralists.
Will the opposition have the strength and resources to do it? Unlike in Armenia, where Pashinyan was the leader of street protests, Saakashvili is not in Georgia now. Four criminal cases have been brought against him. According to one of them, the former president has already been sentenced to three years in prison. And leading the revolution using Rustavi 2 live interviews and social networks is much more difficult.
It was puzzling that Saakashvili has simultaneously started to fight for the presidency in Ukraine and required the European Court of Human Rights to return him not Georgian, but Ukrainian citizenship. He does not have a Georgian passport since 2015.
Most likely, the Rose Revolution 2.0 is not possible also because Georgian Dream and Ivanishvili are still supported, and there is no unity in the opposition: a large part of its former leaders split away from UNM, creating a new party - European Georgia. They are not enthusiastic about the prospect of Saakashvili's return to Georgian politics and are not ready to support the revolution. But the European Georgia has the majority of opposition mandates in the parliament.
Finally, Georgia is still shocked with the August 2008 events and the majority of the population would hardly want to experience the fate again - returning the power to unpredictable Mishiko.
However, all these arguments may not work in view of Saakashvili's irrepressible energy, his fanatical assertiveness and general indignation because of the authorities' inability or unwillingness to fulfill the people's justified demand of punishing all those responsible for the brutal murder of adolescents.
After meeting Kvirikashvili, Zaza Saralidze told reporters that the prime minister had promised him to take personal control of the investigation into the killing of his son. "But if until June 10 all the guilty are not arrested, I will call the people to attend a national rally," the father of the killed boy warned.
But there is no sign of the authorities' desire or ability to fulfill the demand of the leader of the people's movement, therefore, it is inevitable that the rally will be held. Unless Saakashvili does not cancel it at the last minute in order to avoid public defeat and loss of reputation.