Far-right crowds that gathered on Tbilisi’s main Rustaveli Avenue to prevent Tbilisi Pride March set for later today, have violently dismantled this morning antigovernmental tents outside the Parliament building. Police were largely absent from the area while radical groups tore apart the government opponents’ protest tents.
Opposition and civic activists erected tents outside the Parliament some months ago, as post-October-2020 election crisis deepened in February with the detention of Nika Melia, opposition United National Movement leader.
Along with the tents belonging the United National Movement, the Georgian Dream goverment’s arch-rival, and other opposition parties, Malkhaz Machalikashvili, father of Temirlan Machalikashvili, who was shot dead during an anti-terror operation in north-eastern Pankisi gorge by special police forces in December 2017, as well as brother of Archpriest Giorgi Mamaladze, convicted for murder plot, have been protesting with tents outside the legislature demanding fair investigation.
Various far-right as well as Kremlin-friendly groups have been mobilizing in central Tbilisi at least since yesterday to disrupt Tbilisi Pride March, with Guram Palavandishvili, founder of the Society for Children’s Rights and one of the leaders of hate groups acting against Pride, erecting tents against “LGBT propaganda” overnight near Rustaveli Metro Station, a kilometer away from the Parliament.
Bishop Jakob of Bodbe, who was spotted rallying on Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare, told journalists today that he sees holding LGBTQ+ pride as “worse” than the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, arguing that Georgia will regain control over those regions anyway, while Pride will irreparably affect our people’s “morality, spirituality and traditions,” he claimed.
The Georgian Orthodox Church also announced on July 3 prayers in Kashveti Church, opposite to the Parliament building and called for “peaceful protest” against the propagation of “perverted lifestyle.”