Statement by President Salome Zourabichvili
Nine months ago, I made a personally difficult and painful decision for society that was aimed at maintaining state stability, and served to defeat a political crisis and polarization.
Unfortunately, polarization, tensions and confrontation continue to increase on a daily basis. Putting the electoral results declared legitimate under question, using any type of disobedience, encouraging social and public protests serve to weaken and destabilize the country.
This can lead to dire consequences - losing public confidence in democratic institutions is tantamount to setting a crushing precedent, not only for us but for democracies stronger than us. Respecting the election result and acknowledging loss is the cornerstone of democracy! The rejection of these democratic principles pleases only those forces, inside and outside the country, who put their political ambitions above the interests of the country and those in the region who perceive Georgia’s stability and democracy as a threat.
Today, I held a meeting with representatives of the diplomatic corps and discussed the current situation in detail. I believe that there is a need for immediate de-escalation of the situation and easing of tensions, which need, first of all, a real constructive dialogue, so that these processes do not damage the stability of the country and its international image.
Through my experience, I am ready to support all forms of dialogue, but I am convinced that compromise is only justified when both sides are ready for constructive dialogue and not when concessions are perceived as weakness, or even more so when it can be seen as someone's own victory. Constructive dialogue is also opposed to the imposition of preconditions and the radicalization of processes.
I, as the guarantor of this country’s independence, sovereignty, Europeanness, democratic development and therefore stability, reflecting on the interests of the country and of every citizen, believe that we will all be victorious through calm and development.
I hope that the Prime Minister-nominee and his future government will be able to end this severe process and will not allow anyone to put personal political ambitions above the country’s interests and endanger those institutions that are the foundation for a democratic and legal state.
President of Georgia delivers her annual report in parliament
“With the incomprehensible steps taken in recent years, the government is confronting the country’s foreign objective, the people’s mandate, by inviting Gavrilov, you raised doubts and questions for the first time,” said Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili when delivering her annual report in the parliament.
According to Zourabichvili, the Georgian government gradually transformed.
“Instead of strengthening state institutions, being the cornerstone of democracy, the one-party system and its influence get stronger. Laws adopted in an expedited manner (on covert recordings, abolishment of state inspector, changes in the rule for appointment of judges and foreign agents bill) serve your power’s prolongation instead of serving democracy strengthening and citizens’ welfare. The court reform, vital for the country’s future, is at a deadlock,” President said.
Salome Zourabichvili went on to say that the ruling party members speak in unison, and those having different viewpoints, tend to quit the party.
“The party influence is evident in the government and parliament. The party turned into a decision-making space. The party chairman announces his standpoint on all political issues in advance, and the decision-making process is vague, not to mention open discussions.
You are the government confronting the country’s foreign goal, the people’s mandate. By inviting Gavrilov (Russian MP) in 2019, you raised doubts and questions for the first time, though the actual transformation began in 2021 when the Georgian Dream former Chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili quit politics,” she said.
President also recalled the annulling of the document drafted with the engagement of the European Council President and rejection of the EU loan.
“You have never stopped the anti-European rhetoric, blaming and insulting our partners. All this finally came to the extent that we expelled the former EU ambassador from the country with reprimands and accusations,” Zourabichvili stated.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, on the basis of Article 17418 under the Code of Administrative Offenses, launched administrative proceedings, which implies Desecration of official symbols of the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or other international organizations or desecration of the flag or coat of arms of other states.The law enforcement officers will identify and fine the violators.The Ministry of Internal Affairs calls on rally participants gathered near the Parliament, not to go beyond the limits defined by the law on freedom of assembly and expression, observe the norms of public order and follow the lawful requests of police.Each act of violation will be immediately foiled by police and strict legal response will be followed.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Briefing of the Director of the Central Criminal Police Department – Teimuraz KupatadzeAs is known to the public, on March 7 and 8, protest rally was held near the Legislative Body of Georgia and on Rustaveli Avenue, which went beyond the norms established by the law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and turned into violent actions.First of all, I would like to emphasize that it is categorically not allowed to verbally assault, attack or carry out violent actions against police officers.Within these two days, as a result of the violent actions of the rally participants, 58 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were injured, among them 5 are still in various medical facilities.Everyone witnessed clearly how they threw burning objects, pyrotechnics or the so-called “Molotov cocktails” to my colleagues, as a result of which several of them received severe burns.Herewith, it was clearly visible in media live coverages how rally participants threw various blunt objects, stones, wooden or iron objects at the police, as a result of which many policemen received severe injuries.The Ministry of Internal Affairs studies each case of violence against police officers, and the identified criminals will be brought to justice with the full severity of the law.We would like to provide the public with summarized information on the recent events in the area surrounding the Parliament and on Rustaveli Avenue.On March 7 of the current year, after announcing that manifestation was planned to take place, the representatives of the relevant units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in order to protect public order, were stationed near the legislative body and ensured the peaceful conduct of manifestation.However, at the end of the day, the participants of the rally tried to block the entrances to the Parliament.In order to restore public order, based on the necessity, police consistently applied proportional force and special means of coercion provided by the Law of Georgia "On Police" after the warning announcements.Despite numerous calls from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to continue manifestation within the framework of the law, protesters continued their violent actions on Chichinadze and Chitadze streets.In order to ease the tension and de-escalate the situation, the police forces opened the road for the rally participants, cleared the streets surrounding the Parliament and called on them to continue manifestation peacefully.Nevertheless, the rally participants threw various objects - stones, so-called “Molotov Cocktails”, inflammables, blunt objects - at the direction of the police officers, and physically attacked and resisted them. They also damaged vehicles on purpose belonging to the Ministry and special police gear.Later on, the crowd began an organized attack on the parliament building, throwing so-called Molotov cocktails and pyrotechnics.We all saw that the protesters set fire to the building of the legislative body, threw stones, broke the windows and damaged the protective barriers.Deliberate, mass violation of public order continued for several hours. In order to restore the public order, the police applied the proportional force and special means several times.During the manifestation, the law enforcement officers arrested 66 people in accordance with Articles 166 and 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses, on the facts of petty hooliganism and disobedience to the legal demands of the police.The rally continued on the second day near the legislative body.In order to de-escalate the situation, employees of various police units were stationed in the inner territory of the Parliament.Throughout the day, the police protected the public order in the area surrounding the legislative body.Within the framework of the mandate defined by the Law of Georgia "On the Police", with the purpose to ensure safety, the police carried out superficial inspection of citizens near the place where manifestation was held, as a result of which 10 people were arrested. They brought illegal items at the rally, intended for violent actions, including stun gun, batons, stones, and various types of pyrotechnics.The participants of the rally gathered in front of the Parliament had the opportunity to hold a protest in a peaceful and safe environment.Nevertheless, calls for violent actions were periodically heard from individuals.After one of the speakers called on the gathered people to picket the legislative body, the protesters began to block the entrances leading to the parliament and picket the building.The gathered people damaged the protective barriers located near the parliament building, entrance doors, smashed the building's windows, damaged the iron grilles, threw stones, various objects and pyrotechnics at the parliament building and yard.Therefore, the police forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in order to maintain public order, prevent violent and aggressive actions from the side of law-breakers, applied appropriate coercive measures and special means provided by the Law of Georgia "On Police".Despite numerous attempts by the police to defuse the tense situation, the people gathered on Rustaveli Avenue started attacks in the direction of the police officers, throwing Molotov cocktails, stones, wooden poles and other objects.The rally participants damaged, overturned and set fire to vehicles belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They damaged the bus of the Special Tasks Department with stones, painted and damaged the fire truck as well. Material property belonging to Tbilisi City Hall was damaged as well.Throughout the night, the participants of manifestation violated the public order and the rule of law, resisted police officers, damaged the infrastructure and set fire to various things on the central avenue and its surrounding locations.On March 7-8 of the current year, due to the facts of law violations that occurred during the protest rally in the vicinity of the Parliament, the law enforcement officers arrested one individual under Article 353(1) while 133 people were taken under arrest in total in accordance with Articles 166 and 173 envisioned by the Code of Administrative Offences.Some of the detainees were brought before the court yesterday. The rest of the arrestees were released, as the term of stay in the temporary detention center was expired and will appear at the court later.the Ministry of Internal Affairs continues investigation in order to determine, identify and arrest all those who attacked policemen and other violent actions during the protest.Violent incidents are being investigated under Articles 353 (1) and 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
The Ministry of Internal Affairs launched an investigation under articles 353 and 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia in connection with violent incidents that took place in Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue, near the Parliament building.The law enforcement officers arrested 66 people in accordance with Articles 166 and 173 under the Code of Administrative Offenses, on the facts of minor hooliganism and disobedience to the legal request of the law enforcement officer. The facts of the offense committed by the mentioned individuals shall be submitted to the court within the time frame established by the law.From the side of the Ministry, the appropriate legal assessment will be given to the actions of all individuals who facilitated and organized the development of a peaceful protest into violent action.Yesterday, throughout the day, the relevant units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were mobilized near the parliament building in order to ensure the public order and peaceful conduct of the manifestation.Later, the protest of the gathered went beyond the limits established by law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and took a violent turn.Participants of the rally attempted to block entrances of the Parliament, which was prevented by police. Despite numerous calls from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to express their protest in a peaceful manner within the framework of the law, rally participants continued their violent actions and ignored the legal requirements of the law enforcement officers.The police, in order to ease the tension and de-escalate the situation, opened the road and called on protesters to disperse. However, the rally participants threw various objects - stones, inflammables, blunt objects – to the direction of the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, physically assaulted and resisted the policemen. Participants of the rally damaged and set fire to vehicles belonging to the Ministry as well as special police equipment.In order to restore public order and foil violations of the law, the police was forced to gradually apply proportional force and special means of coercion provided by the Law of Georgia "On Police" based on the necessity and after the appropriate warning.Later, the gathered people started an organized attack on the parliament building, throwing the so-called "Molotov cocktails" and pyrotechnics, including in the direction of law enforcement officers.Members of the manifestation set fire to the building of the legislative body, threw stones, smashed windows and damaged the iron protective barriers.There was a mass violation of law and order from the side of rally participants, which persisted continuously for several hours.As a result of the violent actions of the assembled citizens, up to 50 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were injured, several of them required surgical intervention and are still in medical institutions. During the manifestation, citizens were injured as well.The Ministry will study all facts of violation that took place during the manifestation and will give an appropriate legal assessment to each one of them.
Georgia: Statement by the High Representative on the adoption of the “foreign influence” law
On Tuesday, the Georgian Parliament adopted the new law on “transparency of foreign influence” in a first reading. This is a very bad development for Georgia and its people.
The law in its current form risks having a chilling effect on civil society and media organisations, with negative consequences for the many Georgians benefiting from their work. This law is incompatible with EU values and standards. It goes against Georgia’s stated objective of joining the European Union, as supported by a large majority of Georgian citizens. Its final adoption may have serious repercussions on our relations.
The European Union urges Georgia to uphold its commitment to the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, and recalls the right of people to a peaceful protest.
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