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Parliament picket rally assessed as violation of agreement reached at Orbeliani Palace

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, March 3
The picketing of the parliament against the Georgian Dream started in the morning of March 2. The plan of the protests was not changed by the initiative of the President of the European Council Charles Michel, on March 1, in Tbilisi, in which the opposition leaders and the Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili participated.

The opposition said the rally aimed to create discomfort for the MPs in a peaceful manner and not to restrict their entry into the building. The opposition announced a plan to picket the parliament and other upcoming protests at a rally on 26 February.

Police did not allow opposition members to block the road and arrested 7 opposition and civic activists involved in the picketing of the Parliament of Georgia. All of them were detained under Article 173 of the General Administrative Code. This article imposes liability for disobeying a police request.

According to Zaal Udumashvili, a member of the United National Movement, the participants of the picketing rally in front of the Georgian Parliament will try to make their voices heard by the Georgian Dream MPs, who are complicit in creating the difficult situation in the country today.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, the chairman of the Georgian Dream parliamentary faction, called the picket organized by the opposition in front of the parliament the first precedent of violating the agreement on dialogue, reached during the meeting with the President of the European Council.

"Yesterday, Charles Michel persuaded all parties throughout the day that the talks should be held constructively, and today, on the contrary, we have seen extremely destructive action by the opposition," Mdinaradze told media in parliament.

According to him, the behavior of the opposition is not right and can not lead the parties to a positive outcome of the talks: "However, we are ready to complete the negotiation process to a positive outcome in the interests of the state."

Gharibashvili stated that the opposition continues its destructive actions, noting that he agreed to the constructive meeting initiated by Charles Michel because as "there is no alternative to constructive dialogue." "Unfortunately, we saw inconsistent steps after the meeting," he said, recalling the anti-state and destructive attempt to picket the Parliament building. Michel also said that the detention of the Chairman of the United National Movement was a matter of justice and that the government could not intervene.

After a meeting at the Presidential Administration building Michelle said that the political dialogue to resolve the crisis in Georgia has resumed.

The political crisis created after October 2020 parliamentary elections was exacerbated by the arrest of Nika Melia, the leader of the United National Movement. Melia, who is charged with incitement to violence during the June protests in Tbilisi back in 2019, was arrested on February 23 for refusal to post bail.

Now the opposition is demanding the release of Melia, one of the co-founders of the opposition-minded TV channel Mtavari Arkhi Giorgi Rurua and snap parliamentary elections. After the meeting with the PM mediated by the President of the European Council, opposition parties said that they might accept a referendum instead of snap parliamentary elections. They say that rallies will continue at the administrative building of the government of Georgia (March 5), at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (March 9), at Tbilisi City Court (March 11) and again at the Parliament building (March 13).