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Five Years Since “Gavrilov’s Night”

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the infamous “Gavrilov’s Night” in Tbilisi, when the Georgian Dream government brutally dispersed protests against Russian Communist Party MP Sergei Gavrilov‘s address in Russian from the Speaker’s Chair in the Georgian Parliament during the session of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). To this day, the people suffering lasting injuries due to the massive use of tear gas and rubber bullets have not been recognized as victims, and despite calls from the European Court of Human Rights, those responsible for the violence have not been identified.

Current Situation

Davit Paradashvili, the protester who lost the ability to walk during the brutal suppression of the June 20-21, 2019 rally, has applied to the Ministry of Health today with a request to meet with Minister Mikheil Sarjveladze. His main demand is that the government pay for his treatment and provide him with the necessary medical care. In his interview with TV Pirveli, Paradashvili remembers these five years as “five years of hell” and says that for years he, the sole breadwinner of his family, has been unable to work and lead a full life.

Mako Gomuri, who lost her eye during Gavrilov’s Night, also spoke out today in an interview with RFE/RL‘s Georgian Service. She says it is no longer important to her to identify who threw the bullet that injured her eye, but to change the system and the pro-Russian government.

Today, youth movement “Dafioni” announced a rally in Tbilisi, in front of the Parliament, and Batumi, on Era Square at 19:00.


Gavrilov’s arrived in the Parliament as the President of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), which was holding its 26th session in Tbilisi. The session, held on June 19, 2019, was canceled after opposition lawmakers boycotted Gavrilov’s speech in Russian from the Speaker’s rostrum of the Parliament. Their protest continued outside, and many Georgians joined them the protesters against ruling Georgian Dream party for allowing Russian involvement and calling for the resignation of then Speaker, now Prime Minister, Irakli Kobakhidze.

High-ranking GD officials, including the Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, and President, as well as party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, were quick to condemn Russian delegations visit and Gavrilov assuming the chair amid the public outrage, blaming however the “protocol blunder” for the incident, and announced the relocation of the IAO sessions

Nevertheless, the protests continued through the night of June 20-21. People stayed overnight, protesting against the Russian presence and demanding the resignation of GD officials. In the late hours of the night, a massive crackdown on the protests began. The representatives of Georgian Dream justified the heavy use of tear gas and rubber bullets claiming that the opposition “had manipulated” the sincere demonstrators, encouraging them to violence in an attempt to get revenge, even though the Russian delegation had already left the country.

The former Interior Minister and the current opposition party “For Georgia” leader, Giorgi Gakharia has not incurred political or other cost for giving the commends to use disproportionate force to disperse the protest. During an interview on June 28, 2019, he stated: “If I became a bloody executioner in the eyes of the people, it is the burden that I should bear in order to let everyone know that any violent attack upon institutions is unacceptable and incompatible with the country’s development; [If this point is carried through by my actions] I will manage to carry this burden somehow.” However, after leaving the Georgian Dream party, Gakharia deflected responsibility.

The aftermath

240 people, including 80 police officers and over 30 journalists, including‘s Guram Muradov, were injured during the rally dispersal. 102 were hospitalized with bruises and eye traumas. However, despite calls from civil society organizations, many have yet to be granted victim status, and only a few were granted the status by the Prosecutor’s Office decision in 2019 and 2023.

At the same time, 19 people, including United National Movement’s former MP Nika Melia and Irakli Okruashvili, Georgia’s former defense minister (2004-2006), were arrested on charges of “organizing, leading and participating” in mass violence during the unrests on the night of 20-21 June. They were also blamed for trying to overthrow the government. In addition, 305 protesters were detained for various, including, criminal offenses.

The Prosecutor’s Office investigation on charges of exceeding official powers by the police against certain participants during the June 20-21 rally begun on June 24, 2019. Ten police officers were suspended from official duties and some of the police officers were arrested shortly after on July 15, July 16, and August 28. However, one of the arrested was released on bail after couple of months. Following the prolonged investigations, the Ministry of Interior Affairs has been ordered to compensate some of the protestors.

Notably, on May 7, 2024, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found a failure of proper criminal investigation under the procedural limb of Article 3 (prohibition of torture) and ordered the Georgian side to pay damages ranging from EURO 15,000 – 1,800, plus EURO 6,000 for all costs and expenses.

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


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