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Two Man Accused of Batumi Violent Clash Sent to Prison

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, January 11
(TBILISI)--Two people accused of organizing the large-scale Batumi clash in March last year, Merab Gogoberidze and Irakli Chkhvirkia, were found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in jail.

The United National Movement (UNM) opposition and the family members of the arrested told the media the verdict was unfair.

“The people were sentenced for their love of homeland,” supporters of the two men stated in the court.

At the beginning of hearings, the two men were charged with the attempts of organizing massive disturbances, however, later they were sentenced for taking part in violent clashes.

The delivery of verdict was received negatively by UNM representatives.

Up to 40 people were detained, 33 injured, and more than 10 cars were burnt down.

The turmoil in Georgia’s western coastal city, Batumi started with a verbal conflict between the police and several locals about the traffic violations, which resulted into the smash of different pieces of infrastructure.

Georgia’s prime minister and members of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party believed the unrest was orchestrated by a “destructive opposition faction.” They had accused the United National Movement (UNM) opposition party directly.

The UNM called the accusations “absurd,” and said the police actions and special law enforcement units triggered the “vandalism” in Batumi that lasted for 12 hours.