Georgian law enforcers are present at various locations in central Tbilisi in the evening to ensure peace during the United National Movement (UNM) rally which began at 6 p.m. and where demonstrators are demanding the release of former president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili from prison.
The UNM claims that ‘thousands of protestors’ are attending the demonstration and that a number of people have joined the rally from Georgian regions ‘despite provocations on the roads staged by the ruling party activists.’
The demonstrators initially gathered on central Orbeliani and Republic squares and then marched to Freedom Square.
Saakashvili, who was detained in Tbilisi on October 1, a day before Georgian municipal elections, has called on the public to join the rally, ‘which is not for me, but for the country’s future.’
If my life will not be sufficient to save the country (from the Georgian Dream leadership) then I am ready to die for this,” Saakashvili told the opposition-minded Mtavari Arkhi earlier today.
A fire broke out at Rustavi Prison No.17 earlier today which is quite close to Prison No.12 in the same city where Saakashvili is serving his term.
According to preliminary reports, the fire broke out in the prison dinery and no one has been injured in the incident, neither the fire spread to other prisons.
Georgian PM Irakli Garibashvili commented on the rally earlier today and said that ‘what Georgia needs now is peace and concentration on the issues which are crucial to the country’s further development.’
He reiterated that Saakashvili returned to Georgia, after eight years in political exile, ‘with a single goal - to spark tension, destabilisation, and even to commit murder.’
Saakashvili, who is a citizen of Ukraine and chairs the Executive Committee of the Ukrainian National Reforms Council, wishes to be released from prison before municipal election run-offs on October 30 in which the ruling party and the UNM candidates will compete in 17 of 20 mayoral and majoritarian constituencies.
The former president was convicted in Georgia in absentia in 2018 and was sentenced to six years in prison for abuse of authority.
He has also been charged with four other offences related to the illegal seizure of property, embezzlement, illegal rally dispersal, and illegal border-crossing.