In total, nine people are currently facing charges for events related to the June 20 rallies in Tbilisi, including Nika Melia, a member of the Georgian parliament from the former ruling party" />

Tbilisi rallies: policeman arrested for beating protester in the face with fist

In total, nine people are currently facing charges for events related to the June 20 rallies in Tbilisi, including Nika Melia, a member of the Georgian parliament from the former ruling party

The Georgian Interior Ministry arrested four protesters and one policeman yesterday for group violence and abuse of power during the June 20 Tbilisi rallies.

At a special briefing, Georgian Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Bortsvadze said that the detained citizens “attacked the police with various objects and put up resistance and participated in an organized assault trying to break into the parliament building.”

The investigation into the events of June 20, when police violently dispersed a group of protesters in front of the parliament, is looking into “excess use of force by police” and “the organisation, leadership of or participation in group violence” and “insurrection aiming to change the constitutional order, overthrowing or seizing state power in Georgia.”

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The police officer arrested yesterday was detained on the basis of video shots, in which it is  clear that he is beating a protester in the face with his fist as he tries to shove him into a police car. 

In total, 9 people have been charged in the case, including Nika Melia, a member of the Georgian parliament from the former ruling party. Melia is accused of “organizing group violence to seize power.”

The parliament stripped Melia of his parliamentary immunity, but the court decided to release him on bail. He has been obliged to wear an electronic tracking bracelet – he has been forbidding from leaving his home without warning.

10 policemen have been suspended from their duties as the case is ongoing, in addition to the director of the department for special assignments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia Georgi Kakichashvili.

Protests began in Tbilisi on June 20 spontaneously as thousands of people took to the streets to express their discontent over the arrival of State Duma MP Sergei Gavrilov, who came to Tbilisi to speak at the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy – which he did from the seat of the speaker. 

Furthermore, Gavrilov has openly supported the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Thousands of people gathered outside the parliament building with a question to the authorities: “How dare a deputy from an occupying country take the chair of the Georgian parliament speaker?”

At dawn on June 21, police special forces broke up a rally using rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas. More than 200 people were injured, two lost their eyes and one is still connected to a respirator due to injury, when a rubber bullet hit him in the head.

On the afternoon of June 21, Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze resigned. 

On June 24, the authorities satisfied another demand of the protesters: to hold the 2020 parliamentary elections under the proportional system.

As of this moment, the main and only demand of the participants of the protest that has lasted more than three weeks is the resignation of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia.

Starting June 20, protests have been held every day near the parliament in Tbilisi, as well as in other cities of the country – Kutaisi, Gori, Batumi. 

The opposition calls the events of that night “a punitive operation.” Protesters, as well as local and international human rights organizations, indicate that the police did not warn the protesters about the use of force to disperse. The police allegedly fired at protesters using rubber bullets designed to scare large animals.

Meanwhile, Gakharia states that the police acted legitimately, prevented the seizure of parliament and an attempted coup d’état.


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