Tbilisi [Georgia]: The police resorted to firing rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters after they attempted to storm the Georgian Parliament over the visit of a Russian lawmaker here on Thursday.
Protests broke out after Russian State Duma member Sergey Gavrilov along with a Russian delegation participated in the 26th session of the General Assembly of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) here, according to TASS.
Gavrilov opened the session as the IAO President. The Opposition objected to the Russian lawmaker making his address while sitting in the parliament chairperson’s chair and disrupted the session, the Russian news agency added. The Russian delegation left after a decision to finish the session was made.
Following this, representatives from Georgia’s Opposition joined the protesters in demanding Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and Parliament Chairperson Irakli Kobakhidze’s resignations.
Representatives from the ruling ‘Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia’ party have claimed that they were not aware of Gavrilov opening the session, adding that they think protocol was broken.
The police fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon on the protesters. “They are again using gas and firing rubber bullets. The situation is beyond control,” Sputnik quoted a witness as saying.
The Georgian Interior Minister has called the protests an attempt to overthrow the government.
“Despite the calls by the Interior Ministry, the rally participants continued to storm the parliament building … The Interior Ministry will provide a relevant assessment of the mass overthrow attempt and the storming of the parliament building,” a press statement released by the ministry read.
The Georgian Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs on Friday added that 38 law enforcement officials and 14 protesters had been injured during the protests.