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Garibashvili Menaces Pro-EU Rally

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili vowed “no mercy” against any “illegal action” at the pro-Europe march planned on June 20 by Shame Movement, an activist group.

“I want to warn everyone, so that nobody has any illusions – do not yield to this provocation, we won’t have any mercy on any illegal action, we the government will use the rights and the power(s) provided by the law to protect the peace of our citizens and the stability of our country.”

Repeating the recent refrain of the ruling party, the PM said the upcoming rally is organized by the same forces that “could not manage to drag the country into [Russia-Ukraine] war.”

He also denigrated the organizers as “the force that was killing, raping, torturing and treacherously handing out [Georgia’s] territories to the occupant country”, the litany of accusations usually leveled by the Georgian Dream against its predecessor, the United National Movement, and jailed ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili.

The rally, titled “Going Home – to Europe” coincides with the anniversary of the crackdown against journalists and civil rights activists.

On June 20, 2019, some 240 people, including 80 police officers and over 30 journalists were injured as the police dispersed protesters through massive use of tear gas and rubber bullets. A tense protest ensued as thousands of Georgians,  angered by Russian Duma MP Sergei Gavrilov’s presence in the Georgian Parliament, hit the streets of Tbilisi to protest the Russian occupation.

June 20 Rally

Activists have scheduled the rally in anticipation of the EU response on Georgia’s candidate status, with the initial gathering planned on June 20, at 20:00, in front of the Parliament building to “demonstrate the commitment of the Georgian people of the world to European choice and Western values.”

The description of the event on Facebook, which so far has some 3,600 responses, reads that “Europe is a historical choice and an aspiration of Georgians, for which all generations have given sacrifices.”

“The tangible act of our historical aspirations is the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Georgia. We, Georgians, created one of the most progressive documents in the world at that time and declared our connection with Europe based on shared values.”

Organizers say the representatives of the civil society, the Ukrainian government, and the European Union will address the rally, which is later planned to symbolically march towards Europe Square in old Tbilisi.

Georgia is currently awaiting EU Commission’s opinion on its candidacy status on June 2-24. On June 10, Deutsche Welle’s Jack Parrock said, citing a leaked document, that the Commission “could make a distinction between Moldova/Ukraine and Georgia, whereby only the first two would be granted EU candidate status.”

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