Protesters try to storm Georgia parliament in Tbilisi as thousands gather for anti-govt rally(VIDEO)
Protesters have attempted to storm Georgia's parliament building in the capital, Tbilisi, after thousands swarmed the building during an anti-government rally demanding the resignations of top officials.
Around 5,000 people gathered outside the parliament in Tbilisi to protest the participation of the Russian delegation in a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy.
Tensions soared during the assembly’s session at the parliament building earlier on Thursday. Some opposition MPs were outraged by the presence of Russian delegation member Sergey Gavrilov, who was addressing the gathering from the seat of the house speaker. During a break, they occupied the speaker’s podium and prevented the summit from continuing.
The demonstrators attempted to make their way into the parliaments’ courtyard, which was protected by the Special Forces.
The protesters' behavior was, in many cases, provocative. One of the videos from the scene shows them taking away a policeman’s riot gear and passing it around among themselves. There are also reports of bottles being thrown at security forces.
Riot police fired rubber bullets at protesters outside the national parliament in Tbilisi; dozens were injured.Also on rt.com Police fire rubber bullets & tear gas at anti-govt protest near Georgia parliament in Tbilisi
It is a very hot evening in Tbilisi, with the temperature reaching 30 Celsius, and police had been handing out bottled water to the protesters surrounding the parliament building.
The Georgian Interior Ministry has urged the crowd to refrain from illegal actions, promising to “use all means within the law” to restore order.
The opposition has vowed that people will stay on the streets until parliament chairman Irakli Kobakhidze and several other top officials, who are accused of allowing the Russian parliamentarians' visit, offer their resignations.
Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia told reporters that he was ready to meet the demands of the demonstrators.
“No problem. I will resign if there is such a need,” he said.
However, Kobakhidze, who was on an official visit to Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, said that he had no intention of leaving his post.
The Russian Foreign Ministry blasted the protests, saying that “the radical opposition in Georgia has exploited an important international forum, aimed at uniting the Orthodox nations of the world, to unleash its anti-Russian sentiment.”
“The catastrophic incompetence of the government has led the country to a serious crisis,” Nino Burjanadze, former acting head of state of Georgia, told RT.
It was obvious that a Russian MP sitting in the chair of the Georgian parliament speaker wouldn’t be well received by the public, who would see it as an infringement of their country’s “independence and sovereignty,” she said.
“Russian-Georgian relations are a very difficult and sensitive issue for Georgian society” after the South Ossetia war in 2008, Burjanadze pointed out. Back then, Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili ordered an attack on the breakaway region and Russia was forced to interfere to restore peace. Moscow then recognized South Ossetia and another disputed republic, Abkhazia, as independent states, much to the displeasure of Tbilisi.
The pro-Western political parties are now using the people’s anger for their own benefit and the situation may well spiral “out of control” if the government keeps making mistakes, she warned.
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