Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Tuesday challenged Salome Samadashvili, an MP for the opposition Lelo party, on her supportive comments about Lazare Grigoriadis, the protester arrested for alleged assault on law enforcement officers during last month's public rallies in Tbilisi, by asking her if she would "thank" the latter if it was proven by courts that he "poured gasoline on and set another person on fire".
Papuashvili noted Samadashvili’s comments “thanking” Grigoriadis - who is on trial for the charges - before posing the question to her, and claimed her failure to respond was an example of “hypocrisy” on the part of the opposition figure.
“You are not answering - all your hypocrisy is that you are not answering this question. If it is proven that he poured gasoline and set fire to the other person, you would still thank him, because he supposedly ‘correctly poured gasoline and set fire [to the police officer]’”, the Parliament Speaker said in his criticism.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Monday said protesters attacking law enforcement at rallies was “unacceptable” and a “red line on which we will be uncompromising”, amid the case of a citizen charged with violence during last month’s demonstrations in Tbilisi.
The Georgian Interior Ministry said on March 30 it had arrested the offender for the acts during the protests between March 7-9 outside the Parliament against a proposed controversial bill on transparency of foreign influence, adding he also had earlier records of disobedience to police officers and charges of domestic violence.
The demonstrations resulted in the ruling Georgian Dream party withdrawing the bill that called for registration of non-commercial legal entities and media outlets in the country as “agents of foreign influence” if they derive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad.
The controversial legislative proposal was met with a backlash by domestic opposition, civil sector and diplomatic representations in the country, as well as public rallies outside the legislative body before it was shelved.