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Zviad Kuprava, Malkhaz Machalikashvili and Zaza Saralidze at the rally in front of old parliament building, June 10, 2018. Photo: Screengrab from TV Pirveli video

Protesters Rally in Support of Saralidze, Machalikashvili

A protest rally was held outside the old Parliament building in Tbilisi on June 10 in solidarity with Zaza Saralidze, father of one of the teenagers murdered last December.

The protesters, most of them opposition party activists, gathered outside the Parliament building at 4 pm, but their number was significantly smaller than in the past weeks.

Opposition party leaders, including those of the United National Movement and the Labour Party, attended the rally as well, but did not address the protesters, in an apparent attempt to highlight the protest’s non-partisan nature.

Speaking at the event, Zaza Saralidze called on the authorities to hold all perpetrators to justice and demanded resignation of Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani and Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia.

Saralidze also stressed that the new chief prosecutor should be selected by non-governmental organizations.

Malkhaz Machalikashvili, father of the terror-related case suspect who was shot during the State Security Service operation on December 26 last year and succumbed to his injuries two weeks later, was present at the rally as well.

Machalikashvili, on his part, reiterated his earlier calls for bringing to justice the security officer who shot his son, as well as the Head of the State Security Service, Vakhtang Gomelauri, and his deputy, Ioseb Gogashvili.

Later in the evening, the protesters moved three tents to block the traffic on Rustaveli avenue, the capital’s main thoroughfare, with Saralidze and Machalikashvili pledging to stay there until their demands were fulfilled.

On June 11, police arrested several persons, including one of the organizers of the rally, Zviad Kuprava, on charges of petty hooliganism and disobedience. Later, the police officers unblocked the traffic on Rustaveli Avenue and returned the tents to the pathway located right outside the Parliament building.

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