Police and protesters' clash in Batumi, Georgia
Citizens, who were arrested for the administrative violations in the Black Sea city of Batumi, will be released, Giorgi Mghebrishvili, Georgian Interior Minister, stated when commenting on the clash between the protesters and the MoI special squad, on March 11. However, he noted that this, in no way, implied that they would be relieved from responsibility. The Minister said, he was going to travel to Batumi to clear up the matter.
“What happened in Batumi is unacceptable and such provocations will not obstruct the execution of law and the law-enforcers’ work. Those, who put themselves above the law, will be punished,” said Mghebrishvili. He didn’t exclude possible reshuffle in the local MoI administration, as well as mobilization of additional forces in Batumi.
Clashes in the city continue, the cars are on fire.
According to the latest reports, 11 people have turned for medical aid.
As Rustavi 2 TV reported with reference to the local hospital medics, 6 out of the total injured individuals were police officers and the rest were civilians. One person suffered facial fractures and needed surgery.
The eyewitnesses claim, some people were affected by tear gas.
The first clash took place outside the regional police department. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used by the police special squad. As could be seen from Rustavi 2 TV’s live video footage, part of the protesters were throwing stones at the police officers.
After the special squad attack, the protesters started gathering around the police department building. Burning bonfires could be seen in the street.
A standoff between the locals and the police was triggered by parking fines. Sporadic protest rallies began in Batumi in the afternoon, on March 11, after 6 locals had been arrested by the police for offering resistance to the law-enforcers.
Shortly after that, hundreds of people gathered in the city center, most of them were drivers protesting against ‘unfair’ fines and arbitrariness of the patrol police.
The protesters headed towards the police department, demanding release of the arrested persons, as well as dismissal of the local MoI department administration.
As Besik Amiranashvili, Deputy Minister of Interior, stated on air of the 1st TV channel, the riot control devices were used against the protesters after they had started throwing stones at the building and tried to burst into it. In his words, the protesters were promised that the arrestees would be released, but they didn’t stop their aggression.
In Amiranashvili’s words, the protesters’ demand for dismissal of the local MoI department administration is not considered.
The developments in Batumi have caused mixed reactions on social media in Georgia
One part of social media users has blamed the police for savagery. Some users have called for solidarity with the protesters in Batumi, predicting a quick end of the Georgian Dream ruling.
Another part has expressed indignation over the actions of ‘criminal youth’ in the city streets, insisting that the order should be immediately restored. Many have been concerned about the country’s image.
“We’ve been always proud that cars were never burnt and broken during the rallies here,” one of the social media users has noted with regret.
“Never mind, we will overcome that too,” another user has reassured.
But most of all, there have been the appeals to ‘finally wake up Bidzina’
photo: the Batumelebi newspaper