Meanwhile, the Georgian authorities have said they do not intend to meet protesters’ demands" />

Protests in Tbilisi continue after dispersal – demonstrators plan to disrupt parliament

Meanwhile, the Georgian authorities have said they do not intend to meet protesters’ demands

After the violent dispersal of a protest rally in Tbilisi on November 18, civic activists and opposition representatives gathered again on November 19 for a protest rally in front of parliament. 

The organizers of the rally announced plans to hold a large rally on November 25, when they plan to disrupt the parliamentary session.

“Each week we will poison your life,” said one of the leaders of the civil protest Shota Digmelashvili, addressing the ruling Georgian Dream party. Activists say they are giving up violent confrontation and will hold a peaceful manifestation on a weekly basis.

“This will be a very large rally, and if the MPs want to enter the parliament, the police will have to push us, peaceful protesters, representatives of all political parties … They will have to use water cannon again, 5,000 police officers in full gear, beat us … They will not be able to withstand this a whole year, and even if they withstand it, they will lose the election under any electoral system,” Digmelashvili said.

The main demand of the demonstrators remains unchanged: the 2020 parliamentary elections should be held entirely in accordance with a proportional system. 

In addition, they demand the release of detainees during clashes between the police and demonstrators on June 20 and November 18, as well as changes to the election legislation and the composition of the Central Election Commission.

Protests in Tbilisi and several other cities of Georgia began on November 14, when parliament did not support the draft constitutional reform of the electoral law. This project was fundamentally important – the opposition’s protests in June 2019 were stopped to a large extent precisely because the leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili yielded to the opposition’s demands and personally promised to abandon the majoritarian system and adopt a proportional (party) parliamentary election system with a zero entry threshold.

 

For the adoption of the draft electoral reform, 113 deputies out of 150 needed votes. However, only 101 deputies supported the changes on November 14. Mostly, the majoritarian MPs abstained from the ruling Georgian Dream party.

 

On the same day, the opposition and civic activists announced the beginning of unlimited protests, camped on Rustaveli Avenue and refused to leave until their demand was satisfied.

Court delaying trial of detainees

37 protesters detained during the dispersal of the rally on November 18 are still under arrest. They are accused of disobeying the police and hooliganism.

The consideration of their cases in the Tbilisi city court has been delayed: hearings were adjourned several times after 10 a.m.

Politicians explain this by the influence of the authorities on the court.

“Ivanishvili ordered the court to cause maximum discomfort to people. But they will not do anything to those detained. Our protest will be even stronger, their protest first. Everyone should understand that now the court, as well as the special forces yesterday, are in the service of Bidzina Ivanishvili, and not the law,” said Elena Khoshtaria, representative of the European Georgia Party.

In the afternoon, a video was published from the pre-trial detention center in which detainees were singing the anthem of Georgia.

აქციის დაკავებულმა მონაწილეებმა წინასწარი დაკავების იზოლატორში ჰიმნი შეასრულეს

ექსკლუზიური კადრები წინასწარი დაკავების იზოლატორიდან – მომიტინგეები საქართველოს ჰიმნს ასრულებენ

Posted by მთავარი არხი • Mtavari Arkhi on სამშაბათი, 19 ნოემბერი, 2019

As for the victims of the rally, according to official figures, five people were injured, three of whom were discharged from the hospital. Two policemen remain in a medical facility. Giorgi Mgebrishvili, one of the protesters, received a wrist fracture as a result of a blast from a water cannon.

Parliamentary opposition boycotting parliament

After several hours of negotiations, representatives of opposition parties announced a joint decision.

“The action plan is ready, it’s called “We’ll still lock you up,” said Giorgi Vashadze, leader of the New Georgia Party after a meeting in the office of the Labor Party.

Other participants in the meeting noted that the protest will be even stronger, and will not take place in one or two places.

The parliamentary opposition – the United National Movement and European Georgia – as well as several independent MPs announced a boycott of the parliament and said they would not attend the meetings. Roman Gotsiridze, a member of the National Movement, even hung a lock on the door of the legislative chamber. Later, members of parliament removed it. 

გოცირიძემ პარლამენტის სესიის დარბაზს ბოქლომი დაადო

ამ დარბაზში პლენარული სხდომა არ ჩატარდება – გოცირიძემ პარლამენტის სესიის დარბაზს ბოქლომი დაადო

Posted by მთავარი არხი • Mtavari Arkhi on სამშაბათი, 19 ნოემბერი, 2019

Authorities unwilling to compromise

Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said that law enforcement agencies acted within the law on November 18, and if necessary, the state and the police will do the same in the future.

“The blocked streets, these bonfires and barricades on the streets of Tbilisi – in addition to creating many serious problems for our citizens, this is absolutely unacceptable. The political process should take place in parliament, in the media, at the ballot box, and take place within the framework of the law,” Gakharia said.

According to him, protesters attacked the main state institute and MPs elected by the people.

Members of the parliamentary majority share the same position. The speaker of parliament criticized the actions of opposition leaders to picket the parliament and welcomed the government’s decision to disperse the rally.

Several MPs from the ruling party proposed a new legislative initiative. Dmitry Khundadze, one of the authors of the initiative, said that the Georgian parliament should be fully equipped according to the majoritarian system (against which the opposition is protesting).

 


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