Opposition says demonstrations will continue, 3 demands put forward

The opposition urged the public to gather again on Rustaveli Avenue today. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.


Agenda.ge, 21 Jun 2019 - 11:18, Tbilisi,Georgia

The United National Movement opposition party says that a demonstration on Rustaveli Avenue will be held at 7 p.m. today as the current Georgian Dream state leadership “has turned into a regime,” and the Georgian people “no longer want their leadership.”

The Georgian people and the government are standing on different sides. Our citizens have many times been deprived of their constitutional rights under the current state leadership; elections have been rigged many times and now they sacrificed the rights and peace in the country to Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov,” a leader of the United National Movement Grigol Vashadze said.

The opposition say that top officials must resign. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge. 

He says that if the government wants to ease the current tension they must meet three demands:

  •   Dismiss Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia.
  •  Dismiss Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze.
  •  Appoint snap parliamentary elections with the use of only the proportional electoral system.

About 240 people received injuries during the rally yesterday on central Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi, two of them lost eyesight [in one eye].

Police used tear gas and rubber bullets when demonstrators tried to break a police cordon and enter the parliament building.

Police were shooting rubber bullets into the air at first to make them step back. However, the measure did not work.

The rally was triggered by an action of a Russian MP in Georgian parliament. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.

35 injured people have been discharged from hospitals as they received minor injuries.

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze said that the “fair protest” of the Georgian people, which was triggered by “a huge mistake” made during the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy on June 20 when a Russian MP addressed the audience from the chair of the Georgian parliamentary speaker, was used “by destructive forces.”

Unfortunately, due to the violence organised by the irresponsible and destructive opposition our citizens have been injured. The Georgian police acted within the law to protect the state, its citizens and to suspend the violence,” Bakhtadze said.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, who reacted to the events yesterday, has canceled her meetings in Belarus and is returning to Georgia.

The Parliamentary Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze cancelled his visit in Azerbaijan.  

The rally is scheduled to renew later today. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge.

What happened yesterday?

  • Early yesterday Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov occupied the seat of the Georgian parliamentary speaker and addressed the audience from the tribune during the 26th Interparliamentaty Assembly of Orthodoxy, which was held in Georgia with the presence of delegations from 25 countries.
  • Gavrilov, who is the president of the assembly, says that he occupied the seat, which he generally occupies during the events in other countries and dismissed speculations that he made the decision himself.
  • The address of the Russian MP in the Russian language in a country whose territories are occupied by Russia caused protest both in the members of the ruling party and the opposition.
  • The opposition interrupted the session and demanded the Russian delegation to leave the parliament building and the country.
  • They also urged people to rally against the incident in front of the parliament building to defend the state dignity.
  • Georgian top officials and the leaders of the Georgian Dream ruling party said that the public protest was fair and those who organised the event and allowed Gavrilov took the seat would be held accountable.

Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze says that a "destructive opposition" used the fair protest of people for its own political interests. Photo: Prime Minister's press office. 

  • During the rally demonstrators tried to break the police cordon and enter the parliament building.
  • The Georgian Interior Ministry urged protesters to act peacefully, otherwise, those involved in violence would be held accountable. Interior Minister Gakharia arrived at the scene.
  • People did not obey law enforcers and the latter used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them, leaving more than 50 injured, journalists among them.
  • The Interior Ministry has not reported the number of detainees so far.
  • Gavrilov and other Russian MPs were forced to leave the parliament and the country shortly after the opposition’s protest in parliament and the reactions from the ruling party MPs. People threw bottles and other items at Gavrilov when he left a hotel in Tbilisi.