Another Test For Georgia
Eurasianet reports on fighting that broke out in the Georgian Parliament last week as well as on the streets of
Eurasianet says that chain of events was sparked by the 28 June arrest of Aleko Davitashvili, president of the Georgian Wrestling Federation, who along with his brother and a Georgian Judo champion were sentenced to 3 months pre-trial detention. They have been accused of blackmailing a Greek businessman although the three men deny the charges.
Tension escalated soon after the court announced the sentence. Television cameras in the courtroom relayed chaotic images of what appeared to be a brawl between supporters of the accused and court officials. Upon leaving the court, several dozen wrestlers and other supporters went on to hold a rally on nearby
Rustaveli Avenue, effectively blocking ’s main thoroughfare. When attempts by regular police to disperse the crowd failed, riot police were called to the scene. As on-lookers cried "Shame on you," dozens of demonstrators were arrested amid a string of violent scuffles. Tbilisi
Opposition MPs and activists then arrived at the scene and condemned the police crackdown. Yesterday, a press conference was held in which demands that the Minister of Interior of Georgia, Vano Merabishvili, were voiced. This comes at the same time as opposition criticism of a law that allows the Mayor of Tbilisi to be elected by the city council and pledges to boycott local electtions scheduled for next year. However, some opponents of the government have already warned that the skirmishes should not be exploited for political purposes.
One Olympic gold medalist, who supports the Wrestling Federation detainees, however, has already called on the opposition to avoid adding the
Rustaveli Avenuedemonstration to its list of complaints against the government. "I know we behaved badly. The president of Georgia is doing more for the development of Georgian sport than anybody before him, and he most of all doesn’t deserve this," the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported weightlifter Giorgi Asanidze as saying at a July 1 press conference. "We don’t need the interference of political parties. In sports, we’ll take care of things. Let all the parties leave us alone."
More interesting, however, is the way in which in
And of course, the 12 /13 April brutal suppression of an opposition protest staged on
Nevertheless, while these two incidents represent the difference between a more democratic
"The government was absolutely right to use force against those resisting arrest. You cannot create mass protest on the main street because you don’t like the verdict," commented Alexander Rondeli, president of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies. While calling for the government to investigate "individual cases of excessive force," Rondeli criticized opposition members for taking up the protestors’ cause.
Anyway, it's yet another test for post-revolution Georgia and unfortunate as well as concerning to hear from foreigners based in Tbilisi, and those who frequently visit, that international organizations are now unhappy with what is happening there. The full article can be read online here. Civil Georgia also covers the unfolding story on their web site.
Tag: armenia | tbilisi | caucasus | democracy