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Two Rallies Demand Snap Elections in Tbilisi; Parliament Blocked by Protesters

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Two parallel rallies are underway in downtown Tbilisi today, both demanding fully proportional snap elections. The protest led by united opposition and civic activists outside the parliament building commenced on 3pm, while another rally with similar demands, led by Alliance of Patriots began on 5pm on the First Republic Square, few hundred meters away.

Protest Outside the Parliament Building

The protesters at the rally -“Everyone minus one! Bidzina [Ivanishvili] must go!” – outside the parliament are protesting the ruling Georgian Dream party’s failure to pass promised constitutional amendment that would switch Georgia to fully proportional electoral system from 2020, instead of 2024.

The protesters outside the parliament voiced their key demands:

  • Snap parliamentary elections with fully proportional system;
  • Resignation of the government; Provisional government to hold early elections;
  • Release of June 20-21 events’ protesters from custody;
  • New composition of the Central Election Commission.

Grigol Vashadze of the National Movement said that the “all minus one” principle means not “all opposition parties minus Georgian Dream,” but “all citizens minus Georgian Dream.”

Grigol Vashadze outside the Parliament. November 17, 2019. Photo: Guram Muradov / Civil.ge

“We will not go home, but instead we will launch blocking the Parliament, because this legislature has lost its legitimacy. When the country’s informal ruler tells us that he does not care about us, we should use all radical tools envisaged by the constitution and laws to return Georgia to its citizens,” Vashadze said.

Gigi Ugulava of European Georgia, ex-Mayor of Tbilisi, noted that each day of the Georgian Dream remaining in power is dangerous for the country. “Ivanishvili is equal to chaos, chaos is equal to poverty and poverty is equal to our suffering,” he said, adding that the today’s day would be “crucial” and the Georgian Dream lawmakers remaining in the majority would not be able to continue their work in the Parliament building.

Gigi Ugulava of European Georgia addressing protesters outside Parliament on November 17, 2019. Photo: Guram Muradov / Civil.ge

Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of the movement Lelo, also addressed the protesters, saying that Bidzina Ivanishvili deceived the entire country and “deprived us of the right to a free choice.”

“Together with my huge team, I will stand beside you. Our protest will be strong, in frames of law. I call on other parties to coordinate all steps with us, as well as with other parties and to avoid surprises. Our protest should be powerful,” he said.

Mamuka Khazaradze, leader of Lelo Movement addressing protesters outside Parliament on November 17, 2019. Photo: Guram Muradov / Civil.ge

Parallel Rally of Alliance of Patriots, Kremlin-friendly Hate Groups

Another rally, organized by the Alliance of Patriots party, gathered on the First Republic Square. Like the demonstration outside the parliament, protesters at First Republic Square also demand snap elections with fully proportional system. Alliance of Patriots and its supporters marched to Tbilisi State Opera, near Parliament building. Kremlin-friendly hate groups announced yesterday they would join the rally led by Alliance of Patriots.

Addressing the protesters, Irma Inashvili, leader of the Alliance of Patriots party, noted that the rally aims at changing the electoral system in the country and that their protests will be permanent in order to avoid “power usurpation.” She also said that Georgian Dream is creating political crisis in the country that prompted people to hit the streets.

Inashvili stressed that the Alliance of Patriots is acting independently and that they have their own “tactics and strategy.” “The more rallies are held on free, democratic elections, the better… Georgian Dream is wrong, when it assures itself that Georgian people are not interested in elections. We will continue the rallies throughout the country,” she addressed protesters.

Another leader of the Alliance of Patriots party, Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi said that their slogan remains unchanged “neither Georgian Dream, nor Saakashvili-Bokeria.” “This country belongs to the Georgian people. We should become owners of this country,” he addressed protesters.

Ministry of Interior Statement

The Georgian police has been mobilized since early morning. According to media reports, the policemen were stationed in the parliament courtyard, near the Georgian Dream party headquarters in old Tbilisi’s Erekle II square, as well as outside the ruling party chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s business-centre. Special Tasks Department of the Ministry of Interior is also mobilized, media reported.

Ministry of Interior released special statement earlier today, noting that “police forces are mobilized on one hand in order to protect the rights of expression and safety of citizens during assembly and manifestation and on the other hand to ensure uninterrupted functioning of state institutions.”

It also called on “every citizen, organizers of the demonstration as well as participants to protect order and obey legal requests of Police.”  “Any fact of Offense, as well as any attempt of storming or blocking of administrative buildings during the demonstration wiIl be immediately stopped by the Police,” statement reads.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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