Seven individuals, including Georgia’s former Interior Minister Bacho Akhalaia’s lawyer Romeo Sajaia, Free Zone movement members and a Tabula magazine photo reporter were detained on October 19 while rallying in front of the prime minister’s residence. They were demanding the release of Akhalaia and stating that the court is being influenced by the current government. Now they are accused of minor hooliganism and being disobedient to police officers.
Rally in front of PM’s residence
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 21
Akhalaia was arrested on November 7, 2012, facing multiple criminal charges, a prison riot case among them.
Members of the United National Movement state that the action against Akhaia is politically motivated.
Bacho Akhalaia’s wife Ani Nadareishvili claims that they were holding a peaceful rally when two provocateurs, presumably sent by police, started swearing at the group, which resulted in the escalation of hostilities.
“When somebody swears at the women who stand with you, the action naturally causes bad emotions… I asked police to detain the men who were swearing, but they ignored my words. Finally, the protesters became angry and started the clash,” Nadareishvili stated, saying that the provocation was staged by the current Interior Minister Aleksandre Tchikaidze in order to please his chief, Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili.
Members of the United National Movement Akaki Minashvili and Gigi Tsereteli accused the government of derailing a peaceful rally.
“They are opposing freedom of expression,” Tsereteli says.
Responding to the incident, the Ministry of Interior Affairs released a statement, which reads that the rally was held under the organization of the non-governmental organization -Free Zone in front of the Prime Minister’s place of residence.
“The protest violated Article V of the Law on Public Assemblies and Manifestations. Patrol Police inspectors, who were at the scene, called on the rally participants to clear the road and act in accordance with the law. Rally participants ignored the demands of the police, acted aggressively and verbally assaulted police officers as well as passersby,” the statement reads.
The Prime Minister Irakli Ghraibashvili said that the state will not allow this kind of provocations and destructive actions.
“These incidents are absolutely outrageous. When a provocateur attacks a police officer, this action is punishable,” Irakli Gharibashvili said.
Now the members of the Free Zone and those supporting Akhalaia are rallying in front of the Ministry of Interior Affairs.