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Unrest in Batumi - why did Gov’t react late?

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, March 14
Overnight on March 11, during a rally in Georgia’s western city of Batumi, 33 people received light injures while up to 40 (65 by other source) were detained.

The rally came after the police fined a local man for a parking violation, which led to a verbal dispute and his detention. This fact is an ordinary occasion. The police stops and fines dozens of drivers around the country, but this time the case was used by destructive forces to show to the world that Georgian government doesn't control the situation.

Soon after the incident, a group of people gathered in front of a police station, demanding the dismissal of the police chief, accusing him of insulting the local population and exceeding his official powers. The speed, how the protesting group gathered in front of the police station, is already suspicious, as they came prepared for some aggressive actions. These people were prepared having "Molotov cocktails" and other devices to organize chaos and turmoil.

The rally started early in the evening, while a special police unit started making detentions only at about 5am in the morning. The police behaved in a proper way. They tried to calm down the aggressive crowd and didn't start detentions immediately.

As senior government officials stated, the rally was a provocation staged by the previous ruling United National Movement party, aimed at stirring larger-scaled actions “which were avoided”.

The Prime Minister stressed that the reason for only making arrests after several hours was that the police believed that most people at the rally were simply curious members of the public who were then appealed to leave the scene, and by 6am only those serious provocateurs remained.

It must be stated that this is the first incident of its kind in the history of independent Georgia, in which protesters caused such violence, set cars on fire, and damaged shops and local infrastructure. In all other cases when population was protesting against authorities they were well organized, disciplined and it was police and other law-enforcement bodies, which used excessive force against the population and beat the people as well as arrested them and treated badly.

Stirring unrest in the region can be in the interests of opponents to Georgia.

The opinion of majority of political analysts in Georgia comes to the conclusion that this is deliberately staged incident and that the opponents of the current Georgian ruling party were looking for the appropriate occasion to cause an unrest. That is why this took place in Batumi. It could have happened anywhere else, where the casual fact could be transferred into a serious incident resulting in possible casualties and damage, probably in fatalities. This was the general preliminary conclusion, which can be drawn from the fact.

However, any investigation must be based on genuine evidence. The state officials say that those, who participated in acts of vandalism, burning cars, breaking shop windows, stealing goods, damaging city infrastructure will be severely punished, as this fact took place in the city center the many facts were detected by the video monitoring eyes and therefore the hooligans will be unidentified.

On Monday seven attackers were charged and received the sentences, the rest were freed, although some of them were release on bail.