Police Detain Activists in Front of the Parliament Building

Police have cracked down on peaceful protesters in front of the Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue, detaining several, including the representatives of prominent civil society organizations.

A small group has gathered in solidarity with Beka Grigoriadis, who was detained on the same spot yesterday as he was trying to erect a tent, to protest against the detention of his son, Lazare Grigoriadis.

Remaining activists hold the ground after detentions, Photo: Guram Muradovi/

Video footage from the eyewitnesses shows the police approaching a group holding paper banners, snatching the banners from their hands, and detaining some of the activists. According to the eyewitnesses, several people were injured in a rampage and required medical attention.

Transparency International – Georgia and the International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy/ISFED have issued a statement saying that “arresting people for displaying banners is a gross interference with the freedom of expression and is against the Constitution.” The organizations call on the Ministry of Interior to immediately release all detainees and cease illegal restrictions on freedom of expression. They express concern over the trend of arbitrary and illegal arrests of peaceful protesters by the Ministry of Interior, also recalling the arrest of Beka Grigoriadis on June 1.

Giorgi Mshvenieradze, a civil society leader, gave an interview at the site. Photo: Guram Muradovi,

Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association/GYLA also released a joint statement co-signed by over 20 CSOs which reads: “We, the civil society organizations, strongly support the human rights defenders detained in the Georgian Parliament who are bravely fighting against content restrictions on freedom of expression. Overnight, the police arrested 7 participants in a peaceful gathering near the Parliament in a completely arbitrary, illegal, and highly aggressive manner.”

An activist with a T-shirt reading “Ïrakli [PM Irakli Garibashvili], give bonuses to the police”. Photo: Guram Muradovi/

The undersigned organizations state that “it is worrying that Georgian society is witnessing such a negative trend, which undermines the basic principles of democracy and effectively negates the fundamental right to freedom of expression.”

“Through the arbitrary practice of administrative detention, the system is attempting to subject the participants and organizers of peaceful assemblies to police control, to weaken civic self-organization, intimidate the public and harass activists,”- reads the statement.

The signatories demand:

  • The Ministry of Interior to immediately release the detainees and stop the practice of illegal detentions;
  • Special Investigation Department – to investigate the facts of illegal detention of peaceful activists and abuse of authority by law enforcement officials;
  • The Public Defender of Georgia, charged with supervising the protection of human rights on the territory of Georgia, to use the mechanisms provided by his mandate and, inter alia, to monitor the freedom of assembly and expression, the legal status of detainees on the ground;
  • To the Association of Lawyers of Georgia – to respond to cases of violations of the rights of lawyers, since one of the detained was the defense lawyer.

The total number of the detained person could not currently be ascertained but is estimated at 7-10 people. Among those detained reportedly are:

  • Shota Tutberidze, the lawyer of the Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) (who was reportedly released),
  • Saba Brachveli, an employee of the Open Society – Georgia Foundation,
  • Nika Romanadze, activist,
  • Levan Nishnianidze, a member of the Girchi-More Freedom party,
  • Eduard Marikashvili, the chairman of the Georgia Democratic Initiative (GDI), who was holding a blank piece of paper.
  • Lasha Janjgava, civil activist

The Ministry of Internal Affairs made no official statement yet.

Police keep their distance after the crackdown. Photo: Guram Muradovi/

Civil society groups have announced a larger protest for June 3 under the slogan “Defend Freedom of Expression!”

To be updated…

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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