Opposition forces and disgruntled citizens clashed with police near the Parliament building.
On the evening of June 20, thousands of protesters came to the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi : within a few hours, the crowd not only cooperated, but also broke into the courtyard of the building. The police arrived almost immediately there: according to some data, they only drove out the protesters, according to others, they used batons and tear gas.
The leader of the opposition party “European Georgia” said that the rally will continue until the resignation of the head of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze. They also demanded the resignation of the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, George Gakharia and the head of the State Security Service, Vakhtang Gomelauri.
On June 20, at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy (MAP), there was a clash between opposition deputies and representatives of the Russian side. The president of the assembly, State Duma deputy Sergei Gavrilov, took the chair of the Georgian parliament and addressed the audience in Russian. The official spoke in detail about this in a conversation with Kommersant.
I want to emphasize that I sat in the same honorable place in the national parliament of Greece, in the Lebanese parliament, in others – and there were no problems. Of course, I am ready to work even on a side stool – honestly, I am a modest person and do not chase after honors. Where the owners will go – there I will sit. In this case, planted here.
Sergey Gavrilov State Duma Deputy
Gavrilov’s action caused strong opposition to the opposition: members of the European Georgia Party accused the authorities and the chairman of parliament of allowing the Russian official to the place of honor and letting him speak in a language other than Georgian. They first tried to break through to the Russian deputies, and then began to throw eggs at them.
Sergey Gavrilov spoke openly about recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. According to the Georgian opposition, he fought for Abkhazia during the Georgian-Abkhaz war.. Other officials apologized for the fact that “the representative of the occupying country, albeit briefly, took the chair of the Georgian parliament.”
Police apply tear gas to protesters
The meeting of the Parliament was disrupted. After the incident, Russian officials, under heavy police protection, headed towards Tbilisi International Airport and left Georgia.
How did the conflict develop
Despite the fact that the Russian deputies left Tbilisi, the spontaneous action continued. The police turned to decisive actions: tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets were used against the protesters.In response, participants began to throw bottles, sticks, engage in fights and take the shields away from the police. The live broadcast of correspondents at the Parliament led “Medusa”.
According to journalists, people scattered because of the use of rubber bullets, but came back. Many of them came to Parliament in medical masks to protect themselves from tear gas. In the crowd raised different flags: Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and the United States.
А вот и водометы— Телеканал Дождь (@tvrain) 20 June 2019
📹: Дождь pic.twitter.com/KtrW5hDQ3F
Closer to 3:00 am local time the police managed to disperse almost all the protesters. According to Interfax, dozens of people were injured in the clashes, so many ambulances were arriving on the square in front of Parliament. As the Rustavi 2 edition reported , the exact number of detained demonstrators has not yet been announced .
The Georgian Ministry of Health noted that about 50 people were injured: at least 38 policemen and 14 more protesters. According to the adviser to the prime minister of Georgia, by night the number of victims increased to 70 people.
The first channel of the Public Broadcaster of Georgia announced that the protesters had smashed the office of the ruling party “Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia”. The TV channel specified that the participants of the action had burned the party flags found by them in the office.
The leaders of the Georgian opposition told reporters that they plan to hold another protest outside the parliament building. The leader of the United National Unity party, Grigol Vashadze, clarified that it will begin at 18:00 Moscow time.
A TASS source in government circles in Belarus said that Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili interrupted her visit to Belarus and is returning back.
The reaction of the authorities
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili accused Russia of organizing protests. She believes that those who encourage the internal confrontation in Georgia support the “Russian policy”.
Russia is our enemy and occupier. The fifth column it manages may be more dangerous today than open aggression. I would like to say once again that the split of the country and society and the internal confrontation do not work for anyone except Russia, and today it is its most experienced weapon.quote Zurabishvili on RIA “News”
- The Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs called on the citizens who came to stop illegal actions and called the protests “an attempted coup”;
- Former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili called on the opposition to withdraw the leader of the ruling party “Georgian Dream” and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili from power, and the police to come out with a united front with the protesters;
- The President of Georgia has condemned calls Saakashvili “It is completely unacceptable that from abroad a citizen of another country urged the police to disobey”;
- Georgian Prime Minister : “In Georgia, any group of people has the right to protest. In this case, it was a fair protest.But in the last two hours we are watching, this is violence”;
- Georgian ombudsman : “I remind the protesters that violence during a protest goes beyond the limits of freedom of assembly and expression”;
- The US Embassy in Georgia asked the protesters and the police to “remain calm” and act within the framework of the Constitution;
- MFA of Russia : “We express our indignation at the actions of representatives of the radical political forces of Georgia, who used an important international forum uniting the Orthodox states of the world, to splash out their anti-Russian sentiments”;
- State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin condemned the actions of the Georgian authorities, who allowed the attack on the Russian delegation.