Police fire rubber bullets & tear gas at anti-govt protest near Georgia parliament in Tbilisi
Around 5,000 people gathered outside the parliament to denounce the participation of the Russian delegation in a session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), held in the Georgian capital.
The demonstrators' discontent was spurred by what happened during the assembly’s session at the parliament building earlier on Thursday. The opposition MPs protested against a Russian delegation member, IAO president Sergey Gavrilov, who addressed the participants from the official seat of the house speaker.
During a break, they occupied the speaker’s podium and prevented the summit from continuing. Gavrilov was reportedly sprayed with water by some of the Georgian parliamentarians.Also on rt.com Protesters try to storm Georgia parliament in Tbilisi as thousands gather for anti-govt rally(VIDEO)
Police deployed tear gas at some point of the demonstration and made the protesters retreat, but the crowd returned to the parliament building shortly afterwards. The protesters continued throwing various objects at the officers, with sporadic scuffles breaking out.
“The situation got very heated. There was a respite, and then the crowd geared up for another storm. Stones, sticks and bottles were thrown [at law enforcement] from the side of the crowd. Special forces fired rubber bullets and deployed tear gas,” Ruptly producer on the ground described the situation.
He was injured with a rubber bullet while filming and had to go to urgent care.
The temperature in Tbilisi on Thursday night remained over 30 degrees Celsius, so police gave out water bottles to protesters, as many were suffering from the effects of extreme heat and even fainted.
Kakha Kaladze, mayor of Tbilisi and secretary-general of the Georgian Dream ruling party, urged the demonstrators to refrain from violence instigated by "political provocateurs." He said that onсe the protest spiraled into skirmishes with police, it has become unconstitutional.
Speaking about the incident with Gavrilov that sparked the unrest, Kaladze called it an “ourageous mistake” of the protocol service that “dealt a blow” to the whole government, calling on organizers to apologize to the Georgian public.
Other local politicians blamed the sitting leadership for the standoff. Nino Burjanadze, former acting head of state of Georgia, accused the government of “catastrophic incompetence” that “has led the country to a serious crisis.” The pro-Western political parties are seizing on people’s anger to make gains but the situation may well spiral “out of control,” she warned.
Gunfire could be heard in the video stream by RT's video agency Ruptly from outside the parliament. A group of protesters is attempting to go up the stairs of the building, while riot police in full gear formed a line to stop them.
Aggrieved protesters ransacked the officers of the ruling ‘Georgian Dream’ party in downtown Tbilisi. Photos by Georgia’s 1TV show them throwing party flags out of the window and making a huge bonfire on the ground underneath the offices. It was also reported that some of the rioters smashed car windows and vandalized benches near the party headquarters. The channel reported that protesters were no longer gathered outside the parliament building.
The local media says that dozens from each side were wounded in the clashes, with most of them treated by on-site medics. 40 police officers and 14 protesters were wounded in the clashes, the Georgian Health Ministry said.
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