Peaceful demonstrations in front of the Parliament of Georgia continue call for Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia to resign over police brutality when disbanding the rally during the night of 20-21 June.
On the eighth day of protest, thousands of demonstrations marched to the cliff-hanging business center/home of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party chairman Bidizna Ivanishvili. In a brief performance, they showed yellow cards to as a sign of warning.
This time, opposition leaders, who were previously distanced from the demonstrators, also joined. Most of them denounced Minister Gakharia’s televised appearance today, the first after the June 20-21 events, where he defended police actions.
The organizers pledge to go on until all of their demands are met. “Protest rallies are held every day throughout the country, in different towns and villages. Some people have gone on a hunger strike,” the organizers said in their daily updates on Facebook.
Two of their three demands, have so far been substantively addressed:
- Ivanishviili pleged to change the election system to a fully proportional one starting 2020, although no changes have been passed yet in the parliament;
- Most of the prisoners, who were detained on June 20 and sentenced in a wholesale court process, have been released on appeal. Some of the police officers who exceeded their duties have been suspended.
On TV, on message
Earlier on June 27, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia made separate TV appearances, hammering the same message, that the police acted within their purview, responding to an attempted infraction into the Parliament building, which was orchestrated and led by opposition, especially the United National Movement (UNM).
UNM MP Nika Melia was designated as the key actor in trying to force the way into the Parliament. Even though the Parliament voted yesterday to lift his immunity, on June 27 the Tbilisi City Court rejected the prosecution motion for pre-trial detention.
Tensions mounted around 10pm Tbilisi time last Thursday, when part of the protesters tried to break through the first cordon of the police, but were pushed back by the riot police. Situation remained tense overnight.
240 people, including 80 police officers and 12 journalists have been treated for injuries. Many severe injuries to civilians occurred later during the night after the police dispersed protesters through massive use of tear gas and rubber bullets, including so called “less-lethal” rounds.
Follow our tag on Tbilisi protests for further developments