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Monday, May 25, 2009

The Devil Makes Them Do It

Last week I walked into the best Chinese restaurant in Tbilisi and it was empty.

“Where is everybody?” I asked the waiter.

He shrugged his shoulders and said business has been bad the past few weeks, since the opposition blocked Rustaveli. Other businesses in the area are reportedly suffering similar losses.

That doesn’t seem to concern the opposition, who blame everything on the Saakashvili administration, including the poor standings of the Georgian football club.

But they are pushing their luck. The same day, the opposition decided to further inconvenience their countrymen for the good of the nation
by blocking another major city avenue.

You can only push a Georgian driver so far. They’ve tolerated the detours inflicted upon them by the opposition barricades but you can’t expect them to put up with more. There are only so many roads in Tbilisi and too many cars.

As one might expect, drivers began honking madly and cursing opposition leaders, like insurance salesman Davit Gamkrelidze, the leader of the New Rights Party. His firm was the first insurance company in independent Georgia and had a nice arrangement with the Shevardnadze government, where new passport holders were obliged to pay an insurance fee to receive their passport. When the Rose Revolution came along, the New Rights chose to sit it out.

Nino Burjanadze claimed the inconvenience was not their decision, according to But what the journalist did not mention was if she said that with a straight face.

“…It was a response to the illegal actions of the authorities,” the Iron Lady said.

Or in other words, “the devil made me do it.”

Later, a group of taxi drivers honked on up to the opposition barricades of cages and tried to open them up, unsuccessfully. The cabbies say the roadblock is bad for business. The opposition says “We shall make you free.”

Tomorrow is Independence Day here in Georgia and the opposition plans many surprises, says Gamkrelidze.

Just what we need.

Ordinarily, Tbilisi has a big military parade every May 26, with lots of flags and tanks and stuff. This year the opposition has saved the government money and intends to hold their own parade instead. A kind of de facto independence day celebration by an imitation government.

Today at the Conservative party headquarters, during a comic press accreditation formality (the first time journalists have needed accreditation for the opposition), a letter on the secretary’s desk invited the ambassador of a European nation to Georgia’s independence celebration at the opposition venue. What we don’t know is if Conservative Party Secretary, Kakha Kukava had a straight face when he was signing his name.

(photo PJR: The front of parliament. As the protests continue, garbage piles and the street becomes increasingly more fetid.)