Tbilisi protests continue, organisers say snap elections not on agenda

Protests in Tbilisi continue as one of the three major demands of demonstrators remain unfulfilled – the resignation of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge

Agenda.ge, 29 Jun 2019 - 11:58, Tbilisi,Georgia

Peaceful demonstrators gathered in front of the parliament of Georgia in central Tbilisi for the ninth consecutive day yesterday, again demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia.

Responding to the earlier calls from Georgia’s ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili to demand snap parliamentary elections, one of the organisers of the rally said their initial demands will not be changed.

We started everything with particular demands and everything will be finished when those particular demands are fulfilled”, Shota Digmelashvili said, adding they will decide for themselves which demands to raise during the rallies.

The organisers also condemned the recent statement of Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Interior Minister Gakharia that the police used legitimate force against protesters on Rustaveli Avenue on the night of June 20.

Giorgi Gakharia let Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov into the country, a violator of Georgia’s law on occupation. He than gave the order to use force against the peaceful demonstrators protesting this fact [Gavrilov’s visit]”, the organisers wrote on their event page.

Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge

Minister Gakharia explained in his recent televised interview that the rubber bullets that were used during the clash on Rustaveli Avenue last Thursday are in line with international standards and none of them were illegal to use at similar demonstrations.

However, the protesters claim the police used unjustified force and targeted people with bullets used to hunt animals.

Saying they will not get tired, will stay stubborn but sincere in their actions, this evening at 7 p.m. the peaceful demonstrators will gather at the First Republic Square, near Rustaveli Avenue, march to the Freedom Square and then resume the protest in front of the parliament of Georgia. 

Photo: Nino Alavidze/Agenda.ge

Tbilisi protests were sparked by the presence of Russian MPs in the Georgian parliament during the 26th Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, when Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov took the seat of the Georgian parliamentary speaker to address the audience.

  • The rally following the developments in parliament on June 20 was dispersed by police after a part of the demonstrators decided to storm the parliament building, leaving 305 detained and 240 injured.
  • The Georgian Dream ruling party says that the “justified and peaceful” protest of people was transformed into violence due to the “provocative and destructive” actions by opposition members.
  • A member of the UNM Nika Melia has been charged with incitement to violence during the rally.

Protests in Tbilisi continue as one of three demands of demonstrators remain unfulfilled – the resignation of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia [for the dispersal of the rally].