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Unrests in Tbilisi Continue till Sunrise

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Situation remained tense overnight, as police continued to pursue protesters that were dispersed through massive use of tear gas and rubber bullets at the Parliament building in Tbilisi.

The police, including the riot control units have engaged small pockets of protesters that attempted to come together in various locations in central Tbilisi, at the Radisson Hotel on Republic Square, as well as Philarmonic House. The last pockets were eliminated by 04:45 in the morning of 21 June.

Many injuries were reported. According to the head of one of the hospitals, quoted by Netgazeti.ge, two people lost their eye as a result of injuries sustained from rubber bullets.

After an initial assault with tear gas around 02:00, the events were developing rapidly.

At 2:07, the Patriarchate of Georgia issued a statement saying the protest “was justified, since citizens are concerned by occupation of our territories” but the protest has degenerated into violence. They called the authorities to “show restraint” and on citizens “not to allow their emotions to prevail.”

By 02:50 the use of rubber bullets and tear gas continued, as well as detentions, in multiple locations as riot police went for a raid. Around 50 citizens were reported to have been treated for injuries.

Despite massive crackdown, some protesters still remained or returned to Rustaveli avenue. Situation clearly slipped out of control and clashes continued to be reported at 03:16. Police were seen to be using rubber batons, rubber bullets in what seemed to be indiscriminate fashion

Some protesters penetrated the offices of the ruling Georgian Dream party on Rustaveli avenue, their party flags were thrown from windows and burned.

PM Mamuka Bakhtadze convened a briefing at the party headquarters around 04:00 saying, that on one hand “heavy mistakes” were made by some members of the team regarding the form of presence of the Russian delegation at the Inter-parliamentary Orthodox Assembly, which became grounds “for justified protest.” But he argued, that the leadership “has eliminated” the reasons for discontent after the Russian delegation left the parliament and the country.

According to PM Bakhtadze, after 19:00 the sincere protest was “manipulated by destructive political forces that went beyond the constitutional framework”. The “opposition craving revanche,” Bakhtadze said, indicating the United National Movement, “organized massive violence” and “stormed the parliament”. He argued that “destructive political forces” have led the “storming”.

Only following this action, argued PM, the police went “beyond the perimeter of the parliament” and working “within the confines of law, protected the state”. “Our task now is to de-escalate the situation”, PM Bakhtadze said.

Roman Gotsiridze, MP, from United National Movement said “whatever is happening today is an astonishing crime carried out by the state”, arguing that the government lost the legitimacy and moral authority to govern. They said the opposition forces were gathering “to decide on tomorrow’s actions”.

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