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Prime Minister calls upon TSU students to stop protest

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, April 19
Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with a group of students calling themselves Auditorium 115, who picketed the sixth building of the university, asking for a meeting with the Prime Minister.

The students have the following demands: the abolition of Students’ Self-government (called Tvitmmartveloba), the reorganization of the education system and launching an investigation into the presence of intelligence agents (so called ODRs) at TSU.

The meeting of the Prime Minister and the students was closed to the media. Kvirikashvili asked the members of Auditorium 115 to stop their protest and allow suspended studies to resume in several buildings.

"A student protest is not strange. But it is a pity that studies are suspended in some of the buildings of the university. I asked them to stop protesting and I issued some guarantees. If they accept our request, it will be good," the PM said.

According to Kvirikashvili, he made an agreement with the students on many issues and he promised them he would become involved in the development of the law on education. Moreover, the students will set up a group which will conduct a meeting with the PM in the next week, where the issues of funding and structure of university self-government will be discussed.

“Most of their demands are sincere and necessary. I listened to their positions. We had a long conversation and agreed that self-government should not exist in any ugly form,” stated Kvirikashvili after the meeting.

The President of the Students’ Self-Government, Shalva Sabauri, responded to the PM’s statement about Tvitmmartveloba.

"It is good that the Prime Minister visited us. As for the demand that the self-government system be abolished or changed at the legislative level, I think it is misunderstanding of the autonomy. Autonomy means that students should decide themselves what model of government to have,” said Sabauri.

Despite the PM’s visit to TSU, Auditorium 115 members are not going to stop their protest. They say that a verbal agreement alone is not enough and ask Prime Minister to make a public announcement about their agreement.

The first protest of TSU students started in early March, when then-Rector Vladimer Papava confirmed the existence of so-called ODRs affiliated with the Ministry of Internal Affairs at TSU. The students demanded an immediate investigation, saying it threatens the autonomy of the university and indicates towards interference from the government. They also asked for the reorganization of the student government, saying they are misspending the budget of the university.

On the other hand, members of the Tvitmmartveloba formed another group opposing the Auditorium 115. They demanded the resignation of University Rector Vladimer Papava.

The existence of two opposing groups increased the tenseness of the situation in TSU in March, and Rector Vladimer Papava resigned in consequence. However, the active involvement of the Ministry of Education also helped to defuse the unrest and the studies were resumed.

However, the students decided to return to their protest in April, claiming that their demands have not been fully met.