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Protests continues, people gathered in front of Parliament demand PM’s resignation

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Tuesday, July 13
Journalists, civil activists and politicians again gathered in front of the parliament building in demanding PM Irakli Garibashvili’s resignation, following the death of TV Pirveli cameraman Lekso Lashkarava, who was one of the 53 media representatives attacked by the homophobic right-wing groups during the Tbilisi Pride counter rally.

Heads of various media organisations and opposition claim that the anti Tbilisi Pride rally was ‘a special operation’ planned by the government of Georgia, while the Georgian ruling party accuses the opposition of ‘trading by tragedy’.

In response to demands for his resignation, PM Garibashvili also said that this is 'classic anti-state, anti-church and anti-national' protest.

Earlier that day, an extraordinary session of the Georgian Parliament, scheduled for the morning on July 12, began 3 hours late after members of the opposition, several media executives, and civil society activists occupied the speaker's seat, and refused to allow the ruling party to begin the session.

The picket was organised after the deadline set by media representatives and civic society to seek PM resignation expired at midday. There was a hand-to-hand confrontation in Parliament between opposing parties. According to Giorgi Vashadze of Strategy Agmashenebeli, he was physically confronted by Viktor Japaridze, a member of the Georgian Dream.

The opposition political party Lelo members left the session hall in protest. Party leader Mamuka Khazaradze stated the party left the session hall because of the policy that is being pursued in the country, the Russian rhetoric that PM Garibashvili is pursuing in Georgia at the behest of Ivanishvili and is serving to split the country. According to him, the only correct mechanism is the resignation of the PM and the solution envisions peaceful protest, a transitional government and peaceful local elections. Khazaradze also noted that the party members are protesting the attack on journalists which took part on July 5, the Russian course, the non-fulfillment of the Charles Michel document, the appointment of judges, who were inherited by the United National Movement.

After leaving the Parliament session hall by majority of the opposition party members, only 3 MPs from two opposition parties remained there – Aleko Elisashvili and Levan Ioseliani from Citizens and Pridon Injia from European Socialists.

According to MP Khatia Dekanoidze, the United National Movement will not continue working in the parliament. According to the UNM member, the party will participate in parliamentary life only if the issue of dismissal of members of the Georgian government or the adoption of a proportional electoral system is put to a vote.

“Either this parliament should remove Gharibashvili quickly, or the democratic opposition should leave this parliament and the situation should be clear to all citizens inside our country and to the partners supporting Georgia's freedom outside the country,” Giga Bokeria, the leader of European Georgia commented on the ongoing events.

Recall that US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan also made an announcement yesterday, according to her the authorities are responsible for providing a peaceful environment for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights, including the right to assembly, the right to freedom of expression and the right for journalists to practice their profession in a safe environment.

Degnan noted that society didn’t see a safe environment on July 5 and 6, when dozens of journalists were attacked while covering the rally of right wing activists against the Tbilisi Pride march. While talking about the demand of the media representatives and civil society, Degnan noted that it is for the people of Georgia to decide who is going to lead the country.

She expressed her condolences over the death of TV Pirveli cameraman Lekso Lashkarava, noting that violence in any form is unacceptable.

The founder of political movement Unity, Essence, Hope Levan Vasadze said that the events of July 5 happened because of the US Ambassador, ‘who despite the church’s calls didn’t remain silent and called on the government to carry out this provocation’.

Degnan responded that everybody knows who pays for that kind of pro-Kremlin disinformation.

“And those people who want to incite violence here, create instability, are busy at work, doing the Kremlin's work to cause dissension, cause instability here in Georgia”, Degnan said.

Recall that as of now, the information about the commencement of investigation on the organisation of group violence on July 5, has not been spread.