The Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy has been disrupted due to protests, while the government says the event was an “error of protocol”
A session of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Orthodoxy came to a scandalous end today after being ejected from the parliament of Georgia on June 20.
Both foreign and local MPs had to leave the parliament building after opposition MPs protested the opening of the session by Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov from the chair of the parliamentary speaker.
The session was interrupted after the break, when the parliamentary opposition said they would not allow the event to continue in the parliament.
The opposition’s protest
Opposition members of the United National Movement and European Georgian gave the Russian MPs half an hour to leave or be taken out of the building.
“If these people are not taken out of the parliament building, we will mobilise the people, and we will bring people not only in front of the parliament, but into the hall itself”, United National Movement MP Salome Samadashvili said.
“The main problem is, of course, the fact that this all happened in the parliamentary session hall. They defiled our parliament. Mr. Gavrilov sat in the speaker’s chair. [He was in] Abkhazia during the war, and it is clear that he was not there as a tourist. The fact he sat in the speaker’s chair is offensive, but the main problem is not in [the issue in the] building, but the fact that such people are on the territory of Georia”, said European GeorgianMP Giorgi Kandelaki.
Public outrage, government justification
Following the protest of the opposition, representatives of the ruling party also expressed their indignation.
The party’s leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, released a written statement in which he called what was happening a “protocol error” that “would by no means be left without proper response.”
“I fully share the sincere indignation of my fellow citizens in connection with the events. It is unacceptable that a representative of the occupant country should lead any event in the Georgian parliament”, said Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Ivanishvili said it was on his recommendation that the meeting was suspended.
“The organizers, through whose fault Gavrilov took the chair of the parliament, will be held accountable,” said the chairman of the Georgian Dream parliamentary faction, Mamuka Mdinaradze.
“It’s hard to imagine a picture that is worse than this … seeing a Russian MP in the chair of the parliamentary speaker is unbearable,” wrote Tamar Chugoshvili, the vice parliamentary speaker of the ruling party, on her Facebook page.
Non-governmental sector and civil society activists
“Today, Russia has successfully completed the occupation of all of Georgia! A representative [of Russia] held a meeting of our MPs in parliament! What heartache! As an ordinary citizen of Georgia, I feel humiliated, killed! I remember everything, I have not forgotten the war!” Eka Gigauri, chairwoman of Transparency International – Georgia wrote on her Facebook page.
Journalist and civic activist Lasha Berulava said that the “Anti-occupying movement”, which patrols the line of occupation, is now relocated to the parliament building, “where the line of occupation is real”.
Civil activists have announced a protest near the parliament at 19.00.