Labour Party; office location, membership, leaders; organisational structure, affiliations, relationship with Eduard Shevardnadze's government; relationship with former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia [GGA39074.E]

The party known as the Georgian Labour (Shromis) Party (ICCC 1999a, 14), Labourist Party (OSCE 7 Feb. 2000, 25) or Labour Party of Georgia (LPG) (ICCC 1999b, 32) formed in 1995 (ibid. 1999a, 14; Political Parties of the World 2002, 204). Political Parties of the World describes the party's interest as "[a]dvocating protection of the socially weak, the creation of a middle class and Georgian membership in Western organizations" (ibid.). In February 2000, the LPG "joined the new 'Freedom and Democracy' bloc of ... mainly extra-parliamentary opposition parties" (ibid., 205). RFE/RL reported the name of this bloc as "[t]he National Center for Georgia's Freedom and Democracy," noting that it was a "loose alignment" (22 Mar. 2000) formed of "right-wing political parties ... including the Labor Party" (ibid. 14 Feb. 2000). The Tbilisi-based ICCC however has referred to the LPG as a left-centrist party (1999a, 14).

The founding members of the LPG include Shalva Natelashvili, Tamaz Obgaidze, Tsotne Albutashvili, Mukhran Mdivani, Vazha Khidasheli and Tamaz Dzagania (ibid.). Natelashvili is the party's Chairman (RFE/RL 3 Apr. 2002; Political Parties of the World 2002, 204; Europa 2001 2001, 1704). The International Centre for Civil Culture's directory for 1999 lists Mdivani as the "Chancellor of Political Executive Committee" (1999a.,14) and he is also noted as being the Deputy Vice-Premier on Social Affairs in the mayor's office of the city of Tbilisi (Tbilisi Online 27 Jan. 2002). References in Tbilisi-based journal Macro Micro Economics also note that Avtandil Tkebuchava was the party's political secretary in 2001 (2001).

According to several sources, the party's headquarters is located at 88 Javakhishvili St., Tbilisi, Georgia (Europa 2001 2001, 1704; ICCC 1999a, 15).

The ICCC directory reports the party's membership as 90,000, of which 15,000 members are reportedly active (ibid., 14). In a report dated 23 July 1999, the LPG claimed that the number of members the party registered in November 1998 was 64,000 (Prime-News News Agency); the same figure as reported in Europa 2001 (2001, 1704).

The party's organisational structure centres on a conference held once every two years, which elects a chairman and a political executive committee of 25 members for two-year terms (1999a, 14). The ICCC also lists a youth wing called the Youth Faction of Labour Party of Georgia which was founded in 1997 and led by Boris Kupreishvili (ibid., 15).

With respect to the Labour Party's relationship with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, the party "does not support the course of [the] current government" according to the ICCC (ibid.) and joins with Revival of Georgia to form the parliamentary opposition (OSCE 7 Feb. 2000, 28). As part of the National Center for Georgia's Freedom and Democracy bloc, in 2000, the party urged the population to boycott the April 2000 presidential elections justifying the move as necessary "in order to save Georgia from Eduard Shevardnadze's destructive anti-national regime" (RFE/RL 22 Mar. 2000). LPG leader Natelashvili further called for Shevardnadze's "ouster" (ibid. 18 July 2001), "accused [him] of aiming to split Georgia into several independent states" (ibid. 7 Jan. 2002), and called for "criminal proceedings ... brought against [the government] for 'treason'" in relation to Georgia's economic condition (ibid. 20 June 2001).

In the 1999 parliamentary elections, after failing to reach the seven per cent [6.69% (OSCE 7 Feb. 2000, 28)] barrier for proportional representation, the LPG claimed that this "was due to vote-rigging by the ruling Citizens' Union of Georgia (SMK)" (Political Parties of the World 2002, 205). RFE/RL similarly reports claims of "vote falsification" attributed to the ruling SMK (14 Feb. 2000). The OSCE noted voting irregularities that included the situation where "[t]he votes for the Labourist Party ... were less than 7% of the votes cast (149,371), but more than 7% of the valid votes (140,212)" (7 Feb. 2000, 25). The LPG issued two appeals following this election (ibid., 25-26) and requested "equal starting conditions in the course of the [presidential] election" since the parliamentary election "proved that the ruling party ... could 'rig the results of the voting'" (Interfax 10 Feb. 2000).

The Research Directorate found no direct references to leaders of the LPG as having once been supporters of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The latter died on 30 December 1993, reportedly by suicide, after he was ousted in January 1992 (RFE/RL 20 Apr. 2001). Tangential references include a report of LPG leader Natelashvili's call in April 2001 for the reopening the official investigation into the circumstances of Gamsakhurdia's death (ibid.). Natelashvili was also reported to have aligned with Aslan Abashidze prior to the 1999 parliamentary elections (ibid. 3 July 1998). Abashidze was appointed by Gamsakhurdia as Adjar Supreme Council Chairman for Abkhazia's Gali Raion in 1991 (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Europa World Year Book 2001. 2001. Vol. 1. London: Europa Publications Ltd.

Interfax [Moscow, in English]. 10 February 2000. Presidential Bulletin No. 26. "Georgia: Opposition Threatens to Boycott Presidential Elections." (FBIS-SOV-2000-0210 10 Feb. 2000/WNC)

International Centre for Civic Culture (ICCC) [Tbilisi, Georgia]. 1999a. Political Parties of Georgia Directory 1999, pp. 14-15. [Accessed 21 May 2002]

_____. 1999b. Political Parties of Georgia Directory [1998], pp. 32-34. [Accessed 21 May 2002]

Macro Micro Economics [Tbilisi]. 2001. No. 1. Sophiko Sitchinava. "All is Up to Opposition." [Accessed 21 May 2002]

Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). 7 February 2000. Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Georgia Parliamentary Elections Final Report. [Accessed 21 May 2002]

Political Parties of the World. 2002. Fifth ed. Edited by Alan J. Day. London: Longman Group UK, pp. 204-205.

Prime-News News Agency [Tbilisi]. 23 July 1999. "Georgia Political Parties and Associations Release Membership Figures." (BBC Monitoring 24 July 1999/NEXIS)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). 3 April 2002. Newsline. "Georgian Constitutional Court Declares Abkhaz, South Ossetian Constitution Illegal." [Accessed 21 May 2002]

_____. 7 January 2002. Newsline. "Opposition Politicians Question Call for 'Concessions' in Abkhaz, South Ossetian Conflicts." [Accessed 21 May 2002]

_____. 18 July 2001. Newsline. "Georgian Labor Party Leader Calls for President's Ouster." [Accessed 21 May 2002]

_____. 20 June 2001. (Un)Civil Societies. Vol. 2, No. 25. "... As Opposition Calls for 'Peaceful Transition of Power.'" [Accessed 21 May 2002]

_____. 20 April 2001. Caucasus Report. Vol. 4, No. 15. Liz Fuller. "Former Georgian President's Suicide Again Called Into Question." [Accessed 21 May 2002]

_____. 22 March 2000. Newsline. "Georgian Opposition Calls for Boycott of Presidential Poll." (NEXIS)

_____. 14 February 2000. Newsline. "Georgian Non-Parliamentary Opposition Forms New Alliance." [Accessed 21 May 2002]

_____. 3 July 1998. Newsline. Liz Fuller. "Is Georgia Heading for Catastrophe?" [Accessed 21 May 2002]

Tbilisi Online. 27 January 2002. "Official Site of Tbilisi." [Accessed 21 May 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


Internet sites including:

Adamianis Uplebebi (Human Rights)

CIA World Factbook (2001)

Civil Georgia

Election Resources on the Internet

Elections Around the World, Parties on the Web

Georgia Net

Georgian Times

Interfax Georgia

Journal of Democracy, Election Watch (1997-2000)

World News Connection

Search engines:

All The Web


Way Back Machine Internet Archives