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Opposition, Civic Activists Gather to Protest Russian Delegation’s Visit to Tbilisi

A group of opposition and civic activists have gathered in front of the parliament of Georgia, condemning the Russian delegation’s presence at today’s session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) in the parliament’s plenary chamber.

The protesters raise the responsibility of the ruling party over today’s developments, and demand resignation of Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Head of the State Security Service Vakhtang Gomelauri.

The protest started earlier this morning when Russian MP from the Communist Party Sergei Gavrilov, who is also the President of the General Assembly of IAO, addressed the delegates in Russian from the Georgian Parliament Speaker’s seat.

The European Georgia and United National Movement were first to boycott the Russian delegation’s presence in Tbilisi. However, soon non-parliamentary opposition, anti-occupation activists and ordinary citizens joined their sentiments and started gathering in front of the parliament building.

Following the outrage, the ruling party members, including GDDG Chairperson Bidizna Ivanishvili, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, and Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze also condemned the Russian delegations visit, trying to assign Gavrilov’s assuming the Chair to a “protocol blunder”.

Kakha Kaladze, the Secretary General of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) again denounced today’s “outrageous fact” at a news briefing later on today on behalf of GDDG.

“The Russian delegation will leave Georgia. Naturally, the conference will not and cannot continue in that manner,” Kaladze stated. He then noted that Georgia, which “is the respected member of the Orthodox world for 17 centuries” is “using every possible platform for de-occupation of our country, for the interests of our country.”

However, according to Kaladze, “it is inadmissible and wrong” to hold a forum in the Parliament of Georgia under the chairmanship of a Russian delegate.

“Today, there is a full consensus in the society and within our team regarding the incident… An outrageous mistake has taken a place that has placed the entire team under a blow,” he said, noting that the organizers of the IAO “will have to apologize and explain the Georgian society what and why has happened.”

More to follow…

For the background see also:

This post is also available in: Georgian Russian

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