"Destructive political forces" are using an everyday event that took place in Batumi to escalate the situation, says Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili.
Kvirikashvili addressed the nation at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning and called on all sides of the confrontation to act peacefully, after violence erupted in the city of Batumi in Georgia’s western Adjara region after police fined a driver for illegal parking.
"Unfortunately, these [destructive political] forces do not hesitate to try to shake the foundation of the stability of the state; they provoke acts of vandalism, commit violence against representatives of state institutions, who, in accordance to our instructions, are only minimally reacting to the developments in order to avoid a complication of the situation”, Kvirikashvili said in his early morning address.
He added that the state "will by all means ensure peace and order” and let citizens "live in a peaceful environment”.
Kvirikashvili noted that everyone responsible for the unrest will be punished accordingly.
Interior Minister: "Situation under control in Batumi”
Interior Minister Giorgi Mghebrishvili who travelled to Batumi earlier this morning said that the situation is fully under control and 40 people have been arrested for their participation in the vandalous actions.
He added that police have used adequate and proportional measures to prevent the city from further damage.
Mghebrishvili pledged that no one who organised and participated in the unrest will remain unpunished.
Rally participants turned police cars upside down and set them on fire. Photo: Netgazeti.
Reportedly, the driver and several others who accompanied him, verbally assaulted police officers and were detained for "disobeying a lawful order of police office”.
Following this, a group of people gathered in font of the Batumi Patrol Police Department, complaining that in the recent period the number of fines issued to local drivers had increased. They demanded for the arrested men to be released and the police chief to resign.
Protesters threw stones in the direction of the police station, turned police cars upside down and set them on fire.
Violence saw 33 people be taken to hospital
This morning Adjara Health Minister Zaal Mikeladze said that 33 people were taken to Batumi hospitals following the overnight unrest. Of these, 15 were police officers.
Mikeladze said that most of these people had suffered injuries from stone-throwing. Others were poisoned due to tear gas that the riot police used.
Mikeladze added all of these people suffered only minor injuries except one person who remains in hospital due to a concussion.