Become an OC Media Member

Support independent journalism in the Caucasus: Join today

Become a member

UNM to appoint new party chair

10 June 2024
Levan Khabeishvili (right) announcing that he was stepping down as the United National Movement’s chair in favour of Tina Bokuchava (left). Screengrab from the party’s briefing.

Levan Khabeishvili is stepping down as the chair of the United National Movement (UNM), Georgia’s largest opposition party, with Tina Bokuchava set to take over as leader. 

Speaking at a briefing on Saturday, Khabeishvili said that he had decided to leave the post in relation to his health, stating that his doctors had ‘strictly recommended’ that he not work as intensely for the next two or three months. 

Bokuchava will be the first woman to chair the party.

Khabeishvili announced that party internal elections would be held in February 2025, at which a new chair would be elected, but that Bokuchava would prior to that take over the party’s leadership at a party congress in the coming days. 

He added that he intended to become the chair of the UNM’s political council, noting that the role did not require ‘daily, routine work’. 

Khabeishvili said that he would convene the congress in a few days, to approve both changes.

Bokuchava also spoke at the briefing, stating that Georgia’s fate was currently being decided.


‘Today it is being decided where our children will live, whether they will live in Russia’s backyard or a European Georgia’, said Bokuchava. 

She added that in the October parliamentary elections, Georgian Dream party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili should be isolated, while all other political forces should unite ‘for victory, for Georgia, [...] and for our European future’. 

Prior to being announced as party chair, Bokuchava had chaired the UNM’s parliamentary faction. 

A controversial chair

Khabeishvili was elected in January 2023, after party members called for snap internal party elections for the post of chair, which had been occupied by Nika Melia since 27 December 2020. 

Later the same year, hundreds of UNM members left the party in protest against his leadership.

[Read more: Dozens of UNM council members leave party in opposition to current chair]

Khabeishvili was beaten by riot police during the protests against the foreign agent law, with visible injuries on his head and face, and was taken to hospital. 

Levan Khabeishvili after being beaten by police. Photo via social media.

Former UNM chair Nika Melia, who co-founded the Ahali party in February, condemned the transfer of leadership. 

‘Political corruption, turning politics into a business, appointing and then reassigning managers in a political party, as in a [company] — if there is something of Russian rule in Georgian politics, this is it.’

Imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili praised the move, applauding both Khabeishvili’s ‘politically-motivated’ decision and Bokuchava’s appointment.

Right now, online media in Georgia is in dire need of safety equipment, legal support, and technology as we cover increasingly challenging circumstances. Support small, independent media outlets in Georgia via our collective fundraiser.

Interested in directly assisting OC Media? Consider becoming a member.