46 Detained at Opposition Rallies

Police have detained 46 people gathered for opposition rallies at various government buildings across the capital, Tbilisi.

The protesters at the Security Service, Health and Justice Ministries have gathered to protest the goverment’s treatment of the imprisoned ex-president, Mikheil Saakashvili and to demand his transfer to a civilian hospital for monitoring his deteriorating state of health. Saakashvili has been on a hunger strike for over 40 days. He was transferred to a prison hospital on November 9, allegedly against his will.

The Ministry of Interior said on November 10 that protesters “exceeded the limits allowed by the law on freedom of assembly and expression and made attempts to block the entrances of the administrative bodies.” Chief of the Patrol Police Vazha Siradze, said protesters were detained for administrative offenses, including  disobeying a lawful request from the police, insulting police officers, petty hooliganism, and blocking adminsitrative buildings. 

Most of the protesters were detained on the morning of November 10 outside the so-called “Moduli” building of the State Security Service in Tbilisi’s Saburtalo neighborhood. The protesters have called for transferring Saakashvili to a civilian hospital and for the end of the political influence on the security agency.

Available video footage shows police detained protesters on pavement the opposite side of the road outside the State Security Service building, where demonstrators were neither blocking the entrance to the facility, nor disrupting the traffic. According to media reports detainees include several politicians, including Murman Dumbadze, Saakashvili’s foe-turned-ally. 

Some confrontations and detentions also occurred outside the Health Ministry, where protesters were demanding for Saakashvili to be allowed to be treated in a civilian clinic.

Some heated verbal exchanges took place outside the Justice Ministry as well, where UNM MP Levan Khabeishvili and Teimuraz Kupatadze, Deputy Director of Tbilisi Police Department, verbally confronted each other. UNM MP accused the police official of corruption, while Kupatadze slammed Khabeishvili for “showing off for the cameras.”

Media cited Nika Melia, chair of the United National Movement party, accusing the Georgian Dream authorities of “copy-pasting Russia and Belarus” methods vis-à-vis protests. Melia vowed to continue peaceful, non-stop rallies.

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