Georgia: Dozens injured in Tbilisi as protesters demand resignation of top officials
Protesters demanded the resignation of the speaker and an end to the Russian occupation of Georgia
At least 50 civilians were injured during the dispersal of a protest in Tbilisi on Thursday night. This was announced on June 21 by the Georgian TV channel «Rustavi-2». Edition «Jellyfish», citing the Ministry of Health of Georgia, reported 69 victims, including – 38 police officers.
Up to 10,000 people took part in the protests in the center of the Georgian capital. They demanded an end to the Russian occupation of Georgia, and also announced the need to resign the Speaker of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze, the heads of the State Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs..
The unrest was catalyzed by the speech in parliament by the deputy of the Russian State Duma Sergei Gavrilov. Gavrilov arrived in Tbilisi to participate in the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy, of which he is president. At the beginning of the meeting, the Russian parliamentarian sat down in the speaker’s chair, addressing the MPs in Russian. Representatives of the Georgian opposition disrupted the meeting, Gavrilov soon left parliament.
Soon after this incident, a demonstration of many thousands gathered in the square in front of the parliament building. Its participants put forward demands for the resignation of Kobakhidze and a number of government officials. After a while, the demonstrators tried to break into the parliament building. Police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons against protesters.
The country’s authorities called on the protesters to negotiate. Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili spoke in support of the demonstrators.
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze named the demands of the protesters «fair», while accusing the opposition of going beyond the legal framework.
U.S. Embassy in Georgia urged protesters to act within the framework of the country‘s Constitution. «We understand the pain that many people are experiencing today. We call on all parties to remain calm, to exercise restraint», – said in a statement by the American diplomatic mission.
The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the disruption of the work of the Interparliamentary Assembly. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin in an interview with Russian RIA Novosti said that in Moscow «outraged» disrupting the assembly and blamed «radical political forces of Georgia» in «splashing out anti-Russian sentiments».
In journalism – since 2001. From 2005 to 2009, he was responsible for public relations at Nokia in the Russian Far East. He worked in Singapore, Thailand, Brazil and Argentina, developing corporate publications for Coca-Cola and Kaspersky Lab companies. In 2017, he participated in the restart of RTVI, worked as an Internet news editor at the channel’s New York office. On «Voice of America» – since 2018.