11 years since the worst political crisis in Georgia which nearly ended UNM leadership

The 2007 anti-government protests in Tbilisi were triggered by a corruption scandal in the UNM government and the detention of then-Defence Minister Irakli Okruashvili. Photo: Giorgi Tutiashvili.

Agenda.ge, 07 Nov 2018 - 12:41, Tbilisi,Georgia

Eleven years have passed since the November 2007 political crisis in Georgia, which nearly ended the rule of the United National Movement leadership in the country.

November 2007 mass rallies against then-President Mikheil Saakashvili and his government, the brutal dispersal of peaceful protesters and an attack on Imedi TV are still relevant today, as former Georgian top officials have been charged for the incidents of 2007.

Demonstrations against the UNM government kicked off on 28 September 2007 and reached up 100,000 people by 2 November, when they gathered in front of the parliament building in central Tbilisi.

A man standing in front of the riot police on 7 November. Photo: 1TV. 

Protesters urged then-president Mikheil Saakashvili to step down. The protests were organised by a coalition involving major opposition political parties and were supported by billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, who owned Imedi TV that time.

On 7 November, 2007 a series of anti-government protests took place across Georgia and ended with protesters being dispersed by police who used tear gas and water cannons.

  • A total of 508 people were taken to hospital when riot police dispersed thousands of protesters in various parts of Tbilisi.

Saakashvili accused Russia and Patarkatsishvili of being involved in an attempted coup. He declared a nationwide state of emergency that lasted for 15 days.

Riot police against protesters. Photo: Radio Liberty. 

Also on 7 November, riot police attacked Imedi TV while a news programme was being broadcast live on air. Police officers in masks and carrying assault rifles were seen sealing off the office. The broadcaster, which the then-government claimed was biased and pro-opposition, was subsequently switched off.

International organisations evaluated November 2007 as the worst political crisis in Georgia since the Rose Revolution in 2003.

Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze has stated that 7 November became the beginning of the end for the UNM leadership.

And we, the current state leadership, feel a huge responsibility to the Georgian  people not to allow the return of any regime in the country,” he said.

The presidential candidate of the UNM Grigol Vashadze admitted that 7 November was the “gravest mistake” of the previous state leadership which should be used as an example for any government in Georgia.