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12 arrests at opposition rally in Rustavi

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, May 10
Twelve members of the Representative Public Assembly were detained during a street rally held in Rustavi on May 7. Based on the court’s decisions three of those arrested would be imprisoned for 30 days, six of them for 7-15 days and the remaining three will have to pay a fine of GEL 400.

A small group of protesters from the People's Assembly rallied nearby a house of a local police official in Rustavi, less than 30 km south of Tbilisi, as part of a series of protests in the lead up to the planned anti-government demonstrations on May 21 in Tbilisi and Batumi.

The group of protesters was marching peacefully on a small street when dozens of policemen, who were present at the scene, started rounding up participants of the gathering, reportedly after an unknown man hit a police officer. Organizers of the rally said the perpetrator was "a provocateur", not their activist. However, he has been regarded as an activist by the police.

The incident has been described as a provocation from the authorities “which are in agony” because of certain oppositional parties. Democratic Movement-United Georgia has delivered video materials of the event to the diplomatic corps stating that, “the materials clearly reveal what happened in reality, we are claiming with full responsibility that our people will never insult a woman. We are appealing to the Interior Ministry to name the man who insulted the policewoman.”

A special statement was issued by the Georgian party, which reads that the Government is trying to defeat the anti authority wave through repressions and create fear within the society, “however they will not achieve this goal. We demand the immediate release of these detained men.” The Labour Party also echoed this demand to the Interior Ministry.

The incident has also been condemned by those oppositional parties, which do not support aspirations of revolution in the country, however the Representative Public Assembly’s and the Georgian party’s actions seem unacceptable for them, “the two political groups' actions are beyond the limits already. They don’t know what they want. I am sure that both of them are eager for the current authorities to be removed, however by their actions they are enabling Saakashvili's regime to stay in power for a long time, “member of opposition 8, Aleko Shalamberidze, said, adding that the two groups' activities might endanger the whole opposition, as the current President might profit from the situation.

As for the authorities' attitude regarding the opposition’s actions, they state that in the event of any “uncivilized actions, they would respond to the situation within the law, “. As MP, Nugzar Tsiklauri stated, everyone has a right to express his or her attitude however this right should be expressed legally, “believe me, if somebody breaks shop windows and starts a fire we would respond accordingly.”

According to analyst, Paata Zakareishvili, currently, ruling the political process through street rallies has no perspective, “such actions at the present moment would be useless. I think that it would be more important to think of future elections and prepare better for this rather than think about the mobilization of people on less well-thought out demonstrations.”

Small demonstrations of the Representative Public Assembly and the Georgian Party are being actively held, however the Georgian Party has not yet decided whether to stand with the Representative Public Assembly on May 21, or not.