Georgia Opposition, Activists Stage Another Protest, Vow to Disrupt Parliament Session of November 26

Parliamentary and non-parliamentary opposition, together with civic activists, staged another large-scale protests in central Tbilisi in the evening of November 25. Protesters, demanding snap elections with so called “German Model,” gathered on the First Republic Square at 7pm, from where they marched towards the Georgian Parliament through Rustaveli Avenue, Tbilisi’s main thoroughfare.

Police did not allow protesters to erect tents on Rustaveli Avenue or bring firewood outside the Parliament building, yet around 10pm opposition and civic activists managed to erect tents on the streets adjacent to the Parliament.

Demonstrators are staying outside the legislature overnight, vowing to block the ruling Georgian Dream party MPs from entering the Parliament to attend the plenary session of November 26.

Kakha Kaladze, the Secretary General of the ruling Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia (GDDG) party, said after the parliamentary majority’s meeting earlier on November 25 that GDDG “has closed discussions” on amending the electoral system by the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Kaladze claimed, however, the party leadership has talked down the majoritarian MPs from tabling the change to fully majoritarian system already for 2020, with an understanding that they “will continue their deliberations in this direction and that the issue of electoral reform will be put for public plebiscite during the 2020 parliamentary or 2021 local elections.”

The Parliament’s November 14 decision to vote down the constitutional amendment envisaging transition to fully proportional electoral system triggered strong criticism from civil society organizations and opposition parties, as well as prompted countrywide protests.

Protesters have blocked all entrances of the Georgian Parliament during November 17 evening and afternoon of November 18 also. Riot police removed the barricades and protesters from the entrances, with police detaining 37 activists during the dispersal on charges of petty hooliganism and disobedience to police orders on November 18.

After highly controversial hearings, The Tbilisi City Court has sentenced 10 people to administrative detention, also imposed a GEL 1,000 fine on one person and gave a verbal warning to another. The court still has to consider the cases of the remaining 25 persons.