Tbilisi protests continue

Protests in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi have continued for the 10th consecutive day. Demonstrators are demanding the resignation of the country’s interior minister Giorgi Gakharia, who claimed that the use of police force against protesters on the night of June 20, that left around 240 injured, was legitimate.

“Giorgi Gakharia let the Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov into the country, a violation of Georgia’s law on occupation. Then, he gave the order to use force against those who peacefully demonstrated this fact,” wrote, quoting a statement from the protest organisers.

While Georgia’s prime minister, Mamuka Bakhtadze, has supported the interior minister, saying that there have been no questions about the legitimacy of the government’s actions from its international partners, EU ambassadors from the UK, Lithuania and the Netherlands have urged a transparent investigation into the events of June 20.

Responding to former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili’s suggestion to call an election, protest organisers added that the demonstrations were started with “specific demands, and everything will be finished when those specific demands are met.”

The protests, which look increasingly to be targeted against the ruling Georgian Dream party, erupted after Russian communist MP Sergei Gavrilov, a vocal supporter of Russia’s illegal occupation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, was allowed to speak from the Georgian parliament’s central podium during a conference on June 20.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has banned Russian airlines from flying to Georgia from July 8 which is expected to hit Georgia’s booming tourist industry hard.