Riot police, water cannons ready as UNM plans to block roads

  • Opposition activists are marching in central Tbilisi now. They have plans to block roads on both banks of the Mtkvari River. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 15 Nov 2021 - 16:37, Tbilisi,Georgia

Riot police and water cannons are at Baratashvili bridge in central Tbilisi, where activists of the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party are marching to block roads on the both banks of the Mtkvari River.

The UNM is demanding an ‘immediate transfer’ of former president Mikheil Saakashvili to a civil clinic from a prison hospital, after a 46-day hunger strike.

UNM head Nika Melia says that the presence of riot police and law enforcement vehicles at the opposition rally ‘point to the weakness of the Georgian Dream (GD) government, and that the regime is deteriorating.’ 

Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandre Darakhvelidze says that the UNM has plans to deliberately block roads and cause traffic jams, which is a violation of the law, and the ministry will use proportional force and act in accordance with the law to prevent the violation. 

The Ministry of Internal Affairs also issued a statement earlier today calling on the UNM to act in accordance with the law, and warned demonstrators that causing disruption in traffic is punishable by up to three years in prison. 

Saakashvili stated last week that he is ready to stop the hunger strike if he is brought to a civil clinic. However, the Georgian Justice Ministry has not satisfied this condition so far. 

The government says that Saakashvili and the UNM have plans to cause unrest if the former president is brought to a civil clinic. 

Saakashvili was convicted in Georgia in absentia in 2018 for abuse of power and was sentenced to six years in prison. 

He has also been charged with five other offenses.

He says he returned to Georgia after eight years in political exile to remove the Georgian Dream from power.