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Georgian Opposition Alliance Selects Candidate For Tbilisi Mayoral Election

Zviad Dzidziguri speaks at the April 9 conference.

Zviad Dzidziguri speaks at the April 9 conference.

The National Council that unites six Georgian opposition parties and groups named Conservative Party leader Zviad Dzidziguri on April 9 as its candidate in the May 30 elections for Tbilisi mayor. Dzidziguri was selected on the basis of a poll conducted among 12,000 residents of Tbilisi, of whom 51.9 percent preferred him over People's Party Chairman Koba Davitashvili, who will run for the post of city-council chairman.

According to the biography of him on his party's website, Dzidziguri, 45, began his political career in the late 1980s as one of the founders of the unofficial Ilia the Righteous informal group. In October 1990, he was elected to the first postcommunist Georgian parliament. The following year, then-Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia named him prefect of the western town of Samtredia.

Dzidziguri continued to support Gamsakhurdia after the latter's ouster in early 1992. In 1995 he was arrested and sentenced under Eduard Shevardnadze to 13 years in prison, but released in 2000.

In 2002, Dzidziguri was one of the co-founders of the electoral bloc National Movement-Democratic Front that was instrumental in forcing Shevardnadze's ouster in November 2003. But he soon joined the opposition to Shevardnadze's successor as president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and in 2004 teamed up with the Conservative and Republican parties to form the largest opposition faction within parliament.

Dzidziguri announced his intention to run for Tbilisi mayor in November 2009. Caucasus Press on April 9 quoted him as telling journalists after he was selected as the National Council's joint candidate that the Georgian authorities fear the National Council more than any other opposition force. The council also includes the For a Just Georgia movement headed by former Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli, who declined to run for Tbilisi mayor.

Dzidziguri listed as his top priority in the event that he is elected ensuring that the city budget is used for the optimum benefit of the population, in particular to improve the standard of health care and education.

In a clear allusion to denunciations by official politicians and media outlets of Noghaideli as a Moscow pawn, Dzidziguri affirmed that the National Council is neither pro-Western nor pro-Russian. "We will do everything to restore normal relations with Russia while consolidating relations with the West," he affirmed.

In an interview with the Russian daily "Vremya novostei" last month, Dzidziguri argued that the ongoing standoff between Georgia and Russia in the wake of the August 2008 was "is not good for the Georgian population."

He argued earlier that restoring the control of the central government over the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is far more important than pursuing NATO membership, which he described as "unrealistic."

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.