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Issue of political and legal responsibilities

28.06.2019

 
Lado Bitchashvili, Shida Kartli 

On June 20, about 280 citizens, 80 police officers and 38 media representatives got injured as a result of the dispersal of the demonstration in the Rustaveli Avenue. According to the Ministry of Healthcare, 240 individuals were taken to hospitals. Two protesters lost eyes, among them is 18-years-old girl. 

Seven of the injured protesters are residents of Gori. Luka Petriashvili has his jaw seriously injured. His mother Lia Tsiklauri said the rubber bullet broke the jaw and two surgical operations were already performed. 
“My son has a jaw broken. The rubber bullet was stuck in his jaw. What did he do wrong that they shot him?!” Lia Tsiklauri said. 

Another resident of Gori, who was also injured during the dispersal, is Zaza Gorgadze, who had six rubber bullets shot in the chest and belly. The bullets were removed from his body as a result of surgical operation. Gorgadze said he left hospital but visits doctors for the treatment of the wounds. 
The demonstrations are still going on in front of the parliament in Tbilisi and the protesters request resignation of the Minister of Interior Giorgi Gakharia, who was responsible for the dispersal of the demonstration on June 20. The protesters say the police used disproportionate power to disperse the demonstration. They started dispersal with teargas, water cannon and rubber bullets without preliminary warning. They shot the protesters in the face. 

The Minister of Interior stays on his position but ten police officers had their authority suspended; investigation was started against two of them on the abuse of power. 

The Minister met the journalists on the eighth day after the dispersal. Gakharia stated that the police did not use any bullets, which were prohibited to be used in similar situations. 

“Of course, I am responsible for everything what happed on that day – from the beginning to the end. I am not escaping this responsibility,” Gakharia said.

As for the use of disproportionate power against demonstrators, shooting them in the faces and abuse of power by the police officers, the Minister said the investigation will answer those questions. 
“I believe that at that night the police enjoyed its legitimate right to use power. There are some questions over proportionality in some episodes and they must be investigated in details. I clearly separate legal and political parts [of the responsibility]. The legal part of it shall be investigated to the end,” the Minister of Interior said.

Journalist of the TV-Company Rustavi 2 Tamar Bagashvili, who was also injured during the dispersal, asked the Minister why the police was shooting the peaceful protesters and media representatives, and the Minister answered that it was unfortunate fact. 

The demonstrations with the request of the Minister’s resignation still continue but Gakharia is not going to resign. 

On June 20, the protest rallies in Tbilisi was outcry to the visit of the Russian MPs in Tbilisi and occupying the armchair of the speaker of the Georgian Parliament by Sergei Gavrilov, who led the Inter-Parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in Russian language. The citizens of Georgia criticized the Government of Georgia for bringing the Russian MP, who has recognized independence of Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia, into the parliament and giving him the tribune. 

Members of the ruling party stated that there were some changes in the agenda as before, according to the protocol, the Member of the Greek Parliament had to lead the assembly. It was not enough argument for the protesters and they demanded immediate resignation of the parliament speaker, head of the Security Service and the Minister of Interior. The Assembly on Orthodoxy failed in the Parliament but the protest demonstration continued. During night hours, as a result of physical controversy between several dozens of radical protesters and police officers, the Special Forces used tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators without preliminary warning. 

Next day, the Chairman of the Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze resigned. MP Zakaria Kutsnashvili, who as a member of the Assembly on the Orthodoxy was responsible for holding the assembly in Georgia, left the mandate as well.  

The prosecutor’s office brought charges under Article 225 Part I and II of the Criminal Code of Georgia against one of the leaders of the United National Movement and Member of the Parliament Nika Melia for the developments on June 20. The charge refers to organization, management and participation in the group violence, raid, damage or destruction of another person’s property, use of arms, armed resistance to or assault on representatives of public authorities. Prosecutor stated Melia called on the demonstrators to break into the parliament. The Parliament agreed the prosecutor’s office to request the court to use imprisonment as a compulsory measure against MP Nika Melia. However, the court released him under the bail of 30 000 GEL. Nika Melia does not agree with the accusation and claims that the government prosecutes him as a leader of the opposition party. 

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