Arrests in Batumi After Protesters Swear at Garibashvili

Police officers in Georgia’s coastal city of Batumi have detained eight people after protesters rallying in support of Ukraine chanted insulting remarks against Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili over his controversial rhetoric on the ongoing Russian invasion.

Media footage from the March 1 rally shows a standoff between police and protesters outside the Adjara Government building flare up on several occasions, immediately after protesters begin hurling insults at Garibashvili.

During several of the detentions, protesters standing nearby are also heard chanting “Putin Khuylo,” a Ukrainian- and Russian-language insult denigrating President Vladimir Putin.

Among the detainees were also Batumi City Council member Irakli Kupradze of Lelo party, and member of the United National Movement Bondo Tedoradze.

The Interior Ministry has not issued public comments over the incidents and detentions. Local online media outlet Batumelebi reported today that the people remain in detention. 

A local watchdog, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association said today the police detained the people “without explaining any reason.” 

The GYLA pledged to represent the detainees’ interests before the Batumi City Court.

The tense protest in Batumi came as discontent deepens among the Georgian public over Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s clear-cut rejection of joining Western sanctions on Russia, as well as his skepticism over the effectiveness of the measure.

Protesters took to the streets yesterday to demand the PM’s resignation after Kyiv recalled its ambassador from Georgia over the Irakli Garibashvili cabinet’s “immoral stance” on sanctions and Tbilisi’s refusal of a chartered flight to transport Georgian volunteers to Ukraine.

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