Continuing Protests on Rustaveli & the New “Cells”

The new opposition 'cells' from Freedom Square to Kostava Str.

The new opposition 'cells' from Freedom Square to Kostava Str.

Walked around town today with some Austrian journalists here for the Judo championships (colleagues of a friend in Vienna), and together we checked out the continuation of the opposition demonstrations in the centre of town, mostly on

A cell resident, one of the few.

A cell resident, one of the few.

Rustaveli.  Now they’ve blocked off Freedom Square and almost all of Rustaveli, up to Kostava Str. with these cells, ostensibly there to provide accommodation for all the protesters, particularly those coming into the city from the provinces.  Apparently they were inspired by Utsnobi and his antics in his prison cell, broadcast nightly.  Most of the cells appeared to be empty, though a number of them did have people sleeping in them.  Someone observed that there’s a ‘cell city’ near the main television broadcasting building, and that there are a good number of people there, entertained by a tv showing football, the usual opposition footage, and quantities of beer and vodka.  There’s a growing suspicion that the opposition is paying people to hang out in the cells, and providing the booze.

A group of young people marching and blowing their whistles.

A group of young people marching and blowing their whistles.

There also seems to be an increasing sense that things might come to a head tonight.  The opposition made itself look rather foolish last weekend by demanding that Saakashvili resign by a certain time a few days ago, a deadline that passed pretty quietly.  It looks like they’re now trying to turn up the tension, or people will just go home–the terrible weather isn’t helping them either. Some quotes:

The centre of the protests in front of the parliament.

The centre of the protests in front of the parliament.

TBILISI, 23 April /Novosti-Gruziya/. “The deciding time is coming for the opposition that is demanding the resignation of the President of Georgia, Conservative Party leader Kakha Kukava stated on Thursday at the demonstration in front of parliament… “Today, and particularly tonight, will be decisive,” Kukuva stated, emphasizing that it is essential to use this time to spread the “action of cells” as far as possible… “The main reply that the opposition will give to the actions of the agonizing ruling party is the number of people,” Kukava said, calling on opposition supporters to gather on Rustaveli Avenue to help in setting up the maximum number of cells. “

There were only a handful of people in front of the parliament when I walked by it around 5 this afternoon, but it’s possible that things might become more lively later in the evening.  We’ll see.

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