Council of Europe Commissioner calls for peaceful resolution of Tbilisi confrontation

CoE Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović. Photo: Council of Europe., 21 Jun 2019 - 16:34, Tbilisi,Georgia

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović has called on "all sides" of the clashes in Tbilisi to "resolve any controversies through peaceful dialogue" after the confrontation left 240 individuals injured on Thursday night.

Mijatović offered her reaction to the events on Friday, saying she followed the skirmishes outside the Parliament of Georgia and Rustaveli Avenue "with deep concern" and urging for restraint as protests are expected to renew on Friday evening.

I regret that dozens of demonstrators, journalists and police officers have sustained injuries, in some cases very severe. I wish those injured a speedy recovery."

I also urge the Georgian authorities to carry out prompt and effective investigations into the events in order to ensure accountability for violence and to give clear instructions to the police to guarantee that operations to maintain public order are carried out with due respect of human rights," the CoE Commissioner said in her reaction.

Of the 240 injured 80 were law enforcement officers, with over 30 reporters also receiving medical care throughout the night after the clashes saw police use water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent protesters from storming the parliament yard and the building itself.

Human Rights Watch has urged the Georgian government to investigate the use of force by the police and said the law enforcement used rubber bullets and tear gas "without warning" against the demonstrators.

The confrontation was sparked following protests starting at noon, in turn caused by an appearance of Russian State Duma MP Sergey Gavrilov in the Georgian parliament's speaker chair to deliver his address of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, hosted in the capital.

His appearance in the lawmaking body, on the backdrop of ongoing occupation of two of Georgia's regions by the Russian military, caused an uproar among the political opposition and citizens who demanded repercussions from the government, including resignation of Parliament Chair Irakli Kobakhidze.

While Kobakhidze resigned from his position on Friday, demonstrators are expected to gather again during the evening on June 21.