The Georgian Interior Ministry on Friday said 58 law enforcement officers had received “various injuries” while ensuring safety during the rallies in central Tbilisi on Tuesday and Wednesday that protested the Parliament’s discussion of the controversial bill on transparency of foreign influence.
The body said five of the injured professionals remained under medical care following clashes with protesters outside the legislative body.
Briefing of the Director of the Central Criminal Police Department – Teimuraz Kupatadze in connection with incidents that took place on protest rally on March 7 and 8.https://t.co/IAa4yWb7gI— MIA of Georgia (@MIAofGeorgia) March 10, 2023
The Ministry stressed the rallies had “many times exceeded the legal norms of assembly” and “turned violent”, and said the demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails, stones, wooden poles and other objects in the direction of law enforcers.
It also said a group of demonstrators damaged the Parliament building, 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.
“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”, the body said.
In response to the “illegal actions”, the Ministry said its employees had arrested 133 individuals on Tuesday and Wednesday for “violation of public order [and] rule of law”.
The Ministry noted several of the detainees had been brought before court on Thursday while others had been released before their trials, and pledged those involved in the clashes would be “held accountable”.
Demonstrators overturned a police car. Photo: 1TV.
The legislative initiative 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.
Georgian-based non-governmental organisations, the United States Department of State, European Union officials and the United Nations Office in Georgia all spoke out in criticism against the draft law before it was recalled.