President Saakashvili has “strongly condemned” the Interior Ministry and its border police for letting a Russian lawmaker, whom the President denounced as Georgia’s “enemy”, to arrive in the country.
Sergey Gavrilov, a member of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, State Duma, from the Communist Party, arrived in Georgia along with a group of supporters of Dynamo Moscow football club, which played a friendly with Tbilisi Dinamo on July 7 to commemorate the Russian club’s 90th anniversary.
After the match, which ended in 1:1 draw, a small group of activists from Free Zone, a group sympathizing with UNM party, staged a rally outside the Tbilisi Dinamo Arena to protest against presence of the Russian lawmaker at the match. The rally grew into a minor scuffle with the law enforcement officers as the police wanted protesters to move far from the gate from where the Russian delegation was expected to exit the stadium. Protesters also complained about police ripping their banner reading “Occupier deputies get out of Georgia”. Three activists were detained for “petty hooliganism” and “disobeying” police orders; activists, who have denied any wrongdoing, were released on July 8 and the court is expected to rule into the case on July 9.
In a televised statement on July 8 President Saakashvili condemned the arrest of three activists and said the police used “excessive force.”
He also said that he welcomes joint cultural and sport events with Russia, as well as arrival of Russian tourists in Georgia, but added that arrival of the Russian lawmaker Sergey Gavrilov, whom he described as Georgia’s “sworn enemy” with close links to Russian security services, was inadmissible.
“One thing is when you let sportsmen and tourists into the country – we should welcome it, and it is another issue when you let into [the country] enemies of Georgia and every member of Duma, who voted for Georgia’s disintegration into pieces, are Georgia’s enemies and represent risk to Georgia’s security,” Saakashvili said. “Such people should not be allowed in the country if we have dignity, self-esteem and if we love the country.”
“I want to strongly condemn actions of our border [police], the Interior Ministry and the minister [Irakli Garibashvili], which allowed our enemy to arrive into Georgia without punishment… no matter what the motives were,” he added.
MP Gavrilov, who chairs Duma’s committee on property issues, is a member of Russian state-controlled bank VTB’s shareholders consultative council.
FC Dinamo Tbilisi and VTB, which owns FC Dynamo Moscow, are in talks over potential sponsorship agreement.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who earlier on July 7 participated in an opening ceremony of Dinamo Football Academy in Tbilisi, also attended friendly match between Tbilisi Dinamo and the Russian football club.