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Patriarchate Says the Behavior of “Protesting Clubbers” Strained Situation

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, May 15
Georgian Orthodox Church has released a statement regarding the recent large-scale protest rallies in central Tbilisi, held by two different groups: those protesting against Friday night raids on the Tbilisi clubs and demanding liberal drug policy; and by far-right nationalist groups, who became irritated by the “Dance for Freedom” demonstrations of their opponents.

The Patriarchate says that the special operation carried out on Friday in nightclubs Bassiani and Cafe Gallery raised questions in the part of the society, but serious negative reactions were also caused by the statements and behavior of the youth, who were holding rallies for three days.

“Although fight against drug trades is a necessity for us, as well as for the government and population, the special operation carried out on Friday raised questions but it should also be said that the statements and behavior of the part of the youth caused negative reactions and grounds for holding a counter rally,” the statement reads.

The patriarchate called on everyone not to provoke each-other and avoid confrontation.

“By blessing of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, we call on everyone who regards himself/herself as children of the Church of Georgia to refrain from confrontation and not to cause serious provocations," the statement reads.

The counter-protesters, who were the members of the ultra-nationalist groups, tried to get through the police cordon and get near the rally held by their opponents.

For police resistance around 10 members of the nationalist groups were detained. The counter-rally organizers claimed they had formed some units in case confrontation with the “liberal protesters” took place.

The leader of the Georgian National Unity Giorgi Chelidze said on Sunday that they demand the introduction of a death penalty for drug dealers.

Moreover, far-right group Georgian March leader Sandro Bregadze claims they will hold protest rallies from May 14 until May 17 in central capital in order not to let the LGBT activists and queer groups mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, marked on May 17.