Upstarts and Question Marks

Thousands of slickly-designed opposition posters and stickers have been appearing on the streets of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, over the past couple of weeks, in the run-up to anti-government protests on April 9. Some of them blame President Mikheil Saakashvili for the disastrous war here last August; others (like this one, allegedly showing the Georgian leader with an American rock’n’roll masseuse) are simply intended to make him look like a fool.

The posters – all of which feature the one-word slogan, ‘Ratom?’ (‘Why?’) – have reportedly been produced by a new youth activist group, something similar to the Kmara (‘Enough’) youth movement which helped to organise the Rose Revolution which swept Saakashvili to power back in 2003. Like Kmara, the group doesn’t seem to be lacking financial support for its antics. It also seems determined to insult Saakashvili as viciously as possible, just as Kmara did with its notorious posters showing former president Eduard Shevardnadze and his allies being flushed down the toilet. The Georgian opposition has long been criticised for its monotonously unimaginative tactics; now it seems that some activists are learning from the satirical, culturally-savvy tactics which the Rose Revolutionaries once used.

Local website Civil Georgia also reports that police detained four youth activists from an opposition group last night who were trying to hold a rally outside a restaurant where Saakashvili was eating. Not exactly polite behaviour, but I remember one Kmara member telling me that in 2003, he and his fellow activists used to turn up whenever Shevardnadze made a public appearance, blow whistles at the ageing president and shout things like "You are the plague!"