Tensions mount as protesters try to push through the police cordon at the Parliament
Several thousand opposition and civic activists protest on Rustaveli avenue, in front of the Parliament building. The protest was sparked by the presence of the Russian Duma delegation in the Parliament building today.
The protesters demand immediate action from the government, including the resignation of the Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Head of the State Security Service Vakhtang Gomelauri.
Tensions have mounted around 10pm Tbilisi time, as the ruling party did not respond to demands.
Part of the protesters have broken through the first cordon of the police, but were pushed back by the riot police.
Minister Gakharia arrived on location and told the media:
“What is happening is not only regretable, it is tragic…assault on state institutions, or calls for such an attack… however today’s tragic events end, attack on the police, which is a state insitituion and the attack on the parliament will be judged as they should be. Everyone [involved] will be punished with full severity of the law.”
Georgian Dream Secretary General, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze also called for sobriety “I am calling onto peaceful protesters not to follow the adventurous politicians so that they do not become unwitting collaborators in their criminal intentions,” Kaladze said.
“Whatever is happening during these minutes in front of the Parliament went beyond the limits of the liberty of expression, peaceful protest, and has gained clearly unconstitutional character,” added Kaladze, saying that “the Police, law enforcement agencies will be working within the limits of their responsibility to secure order, lawfulnes, to protect the state and the constitution.”
PM Bakhtadze, who also arrived to the Parliament said “what we saw today is absolutely unacceptable,” and that a demonstration that had “started in a peaceful manner,” turned into “violence.”
“It is an attempt by an aggressive group, the National Movement to move Georgia out of the legal framework, but they will fail to do it… I would like to address the youth – I am beside you in your frank protest, but we have to deal with narrow political interests, which are beyond any limits… violence is unacceptable and it will have adequate response,” Bakhtadze stated.
More to follow…