Police have reportedly detained a total of 9 persons in the early hours of December 31, as civic activists and opposition protested City Hall’s decision to remove protest tents from outside the Georgian Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare.
Georgian media reported based on Interior Ministry that the detentions were taken under articles 166 (minor hooliganism) and 173 (resistance to the lawful demands of the law-enforcement officers) of the Administrative Offenses Code of Georgia.
Civic activists of “It’s a shame” movement, as well as opposition politicians of United National Movement, European Georgia, Lelo for Georgia, Republican Party and others also protested outside the Parliament, condemning City Hall’s decision.
“I beg you not to bring your children outside the Parliament where I have been protesting for the third New Year’s Eve with the demand from them [authorities] to tell me who killed Temirlan [my son]… There is no place for celebrations outside the Parliament,” Malkhaz Machalikashvili, father of terror-related case suspect who was shot during the State Security Service operation on December 26, 2017 and succumbed to his injuries two weeks later, wrote on his Facebook page.
Tbilisi City Hall told Georgian Media that they notified protesters about their intention to arrange kid-friendly attractions and Christmas market in front of Parliament for New Year’s in advance.
Following civic protest in support of Machalikashvili and Saralidze, as well as court ruling of December 3, 2018, however, Machalikashvili has kept his protest-tent outside Georgian legislative building ever since.
18-year-old Temirlan Machalikashvili, native of Pankisi gorge of Georgia’s Akhmeta Municipality, was shot in the head during his detention in December 2017. According to the State Security of Georgia (SSG), he attempted to resist the security forces and tried to detonate a hand grenade, to which the SSG operatives responded with “proportional force.” Machalikashvili’s family denies this and claims he was asleep when officers entered his room and opened fire.