MIA Says Detained Six Demonstrators, Announces Further Criminal Investigations Against Protesters

On May 9, the Director of the Tbilisi Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Sulkhan Tamazashvili, held a briefing on the six people arrested during the ongoing rallies against the Foreign Agents Bill on charges of assaulting a police officer and damaging property and announced new criminal investigation against all whose speeches during the rallies contain “criminal offenses.” His statement did not address at all the beatings of the protest activists on May 8.

Tamazashvili claims that during the rallies the demonstrators repeatedly “exceeded the norms established by the law on manifestation and assembly.” He noted that the participants of the rally tried by various means, including unknown tear gas and building barricades, to get past the police stationed in front of the Parliament and enter the building.

He also said that the participants of the rally “threw various heavy objects”, including bottles and tear gas canisters, into the yard of the building of the Special State Protection Service, where the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the vehicles of the Ministry were located. In addition, he accused the demonstrators of damaging the video cameras of the Tbilisi City Hall located on the Parliament building.

According to Tamazashvili, seven policemen were injured in the attacks, one of whom was hospitalized. He listed the findings of the MIA investigation, alleging that:

  • One of the detainees threw a sharp object in the direction of a police officer, injuring him in the eyes area on April 16.
  • One of the detainees damaged a police patrol car on April 16.
  • Two of the detainees damaged the video cameras of the MIA’s Public Safety Management Center (112) during the rally on May 1-2;
  • One of the detainees damaged the gates of the Parliament during the ongoing rally near the legislative body and also threw a stone in the direction of the employees of the Ministry of Interior in the yard of the Parliament, as a result of which a firefighter of the Emergency Situations Management Service was injured on May 1.
  • On May 1, one of the detainees damaged the video camera on the roof of the building of the Special State Protection Service.

He specified that the investigation in this cases is ongoing under first parts of the Articles 353​1 (Attacking a police officer, employee of the Special Penitentiary Service or other representative of authority or a public institution) and 187 (Damage or destruction of property) of the Criminal Code of Georgia.

Tamazashvili added: “In connection with the deliberations on the draft law “On the Transparency of Foreign Influence”, in connection with the violent actions of citizens during the protests from April 15, 2024 until now, on May 8 this year, the Central Criminal Police Department began an investigation under three articles of the Criminal Code.”

Investigations are ongoing under Articles 222 (seizing or blocking a strategic or special object), 225 (organizing, directing or participating in group violence) and 226 (organizing a group action that grossly violates public order or is related to clear disobedience to the lawful request of a government official, or that has caused a disruption in the operation of transportation, an institution or an organization).

“In connection with the mentioned criminal cases, the Ministry of Interior conducts active investigative actions, including the study of all calls, public speeches and appeals, as well as video materials, which contain signs of a criminal offense. Within the framework of the investigation, the law enforcement bodies will interrogate the organizers of the rally, political leaders and all those who may have any connection with the mentioned criminal case,” – concluded Tamazashvili.

In spite of the local and international outcry over the disproportionate use of force by the law enforcers during the ongoing protests against the Foreign Agents’ law none of the law enforcers has been detained so far in connection the violent rally dispersals.

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