Georgian police arrested 133 individuals during protests outside the Parliament in central Tbilisi on Tuesday and Wednesday against the controversial domestic bill on transparency of foreign influence, the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced on Thursday.
The Ministry said the arrests had been made for “violation of public order [and] rule of law”, adding one of the arrested protesters had been detained for assault of a law enforcement officer.
Its statement said that protests had proceeded peacefully for “several hours” until a participant made a call for the demonstrators to surround the legislative body.
Despite the warnings of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the rally participants went beyond the norms established by the law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, ignoring lawful demands of the law enforcement officers”, it said.
The gathered protesters behaved aggressively and damaged the protective barriers placed along the legislative body building [as well as] entrance doors, smashed the building's windows, threw stones, various objects and pyrotechnics into the Parliament building and inner yard, which may have resulted in serious consequences”, the statement added.
Characterising the protests as “extremely violent”, it also said the police had “applied respective coercive measures” to maintain order and “prevent violent and aggressive actions of law-breakers”.
Police tried to defuse the tense situation multiple times - they removed the aggressive persons from the territory surrounding the Parliament and called on rally participants to disperse peacefully. However, they continued their violent actions and did not follow the legal demands of the law enforcement officers”, the state body said.
Rally participants threw “Molotov cocktails”, stones, wooden poles and other objects in the direction of law enforcers, it also pointed out, while some of them damaged, overturned and set fire to several Ministry vehicles, damaged a bus of its Special Tasks Department as well as a fire truck and facades of buildings on adjacent Rustaveli Avenue, and smashed shop windows.
Those who gathered on Rustaveli Avenue also damaged material property owned by Tbilisi City Hall services [and] set fire to rubbish bins in the street, broke benches and public transport stops. Participants of the rally violated public order and the rule of law throughout the night at different locations and resisted police officers”, the official comment said.
About 10 Ministry employees received “injuries of various degrees” as a result of the “violent actions” of the protesters, the body said, adding other citizens had also been left injured.