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Protesters arrested on Rustaveli Avenue

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, January 30
Several protesters were detained January 28, while holding a memorial rally to mark the sixth anniversary of the murder of Sandro Girgvliani.

A few dozen activists from opposition-linked youth groups gathered outside Parliament to call for a new investigation into the high-profile murder, over which allegations persist that police covered up an alleged connection to senior officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Protesters initially gathered on a pedestrian walkway, later moving onto Rustaveli Avenue and briefly blocking traffic; police intervened, pushing protesters back onto the sidewalk and arresting one. Soon after, protesters again blocked traffic, causing policemen to detain several more individuals.

A spokesperson for the Ministry said that seven protesters were detained for petty hooliganism and disobedience to police orders – charges which under the code of administrative offences may result in either a fine or imprisonment for a maximum of 90 days.

The detention was immediately followed by a statement from opposition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili’s press service. He asserted that the detentions were carried out "illegally, as the protesters did not violate the law, and did not block the street. Moreover, initiators of the violence were policemen.” The statement also highlighted that such action violates the fundamental right of expression, and appealed to police forces "to serve the law and not the ruling power."

Late on January 28, the Tbilisi City Court found all seven protestors guilty, fined six of them 400 GEL each and one 500 GEL, then released them.