People responsible for organizing riots near the parliament building in Tbilisi will be held accountable for attempting to destabilize the situation in the country, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze told a briefing on Friday.
“Our task is to de-escalate the situation. The international community and the diplomatic corps have been informed about the developments. We promise that those people responsible for for organizing mass riots and attempting to destabilize the situation will be held fully accountable. We want to urge the society to remain calm. The authorities will ensure security of every citizen and maintain public order,” Bakhtadze said adding that riots were organized by “destructive political forces.”
Several thousand demonstrators, together with opposition representatives, gathered in Tbilisi downtown on Thursday and tried to storm the parliament building. Protesters demanded resignation of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Parliament Chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze. Local media reported that the policy used tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators.
According to the Georgian Health Ministry, 52 people were injured in the protests, including 38 police officers. Reports also said that several dozen people were detained.
Demonstrations followed the participation of Russian State Duma member Sergey Gavrilov and other Russian delegates in the 26th session of the General Assembly of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) in Tbilisi. On Thursday morning, Gavrilov opened the session as the IAO president. Opposition Georgian parliament members condemned Gavrilov for addressing the delegates while sitting down in a chair of the parliament chairperson. Opposition representatives then picketed the rostrum and the chair of the parliament speaker and did not allow the session to continue.
A decision was made later to finish the session, and for the Russian delegation to leave. Representatives of the ruling party “Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia” said that they did not know that Gavrilov would open the session and think that the protocol was broken.