Tensions Rising in Tbilisi

News has been emerging in the past few hours of a confrontation at a police station in Dighomi, where some opposition activists are being held in connection with the assault on Public Broadcasting journalist Nika Avliani.  Police have apparently been firing rubber or plastic bullets into the crowds, injuring a number of activists including a handful of opposition leaders.  Some articles:

Radical Opposition Broke into Pre-Detention Prison

May 6, 2009   21:09
Physical confrontation is taking place between opposition activists and law enforcement officials at the main Tbilisi police administration building.
This incident was provoked by Giorgi Gachechladze, brother of opposition leader Levan Gachechiladze, who jumped over the fence and broke into the territory of the administration.
Further, demonstrators used sticks against law enforcement personnel, to which special purpose police responded in kind. Several people received bodily injuries as a result of the incident, including Levan Gachechiladze and Bidzina Gegidze. Giorgi Gachechiladze was arrested by police.
Up to 300 opposition supporters had heated to the facility to liberate their activists who had been arrested by police. Opposition activists Vachnadze, Revazishvili and Oniani were arrested in conjunction with the beating yesterday of Public Broadcasting journalist Nika Avliani. A criminal case has been brought against them under the article of hooliganism. The suspects were arrested yesterday night.

(Thanks to Tim Blauvelt)

A guy who was there sent this message:

so i just got back from the craziness outside the police station, there are several people injured by rubber bullets (these ones are actually plastic, and have some wired grey powdery stuff in them). nino is calling on more people to come, so that’s not very promising. i have never seen two groups of people more ready to fight each other–the police are chanting ‘misha misha’ and illicitly throwing pebbles into the crowd, the protesters occasionally try to climb the fence. there are the inevitable insults too, the best one i heard was the police shouting “buy bitsadze some viagra so he can see to burjanadze properly” (that’s the toned down version)

(Thanks to Will Dunbar)

Also this just in, referring to the city of cells on Rustaveli:

Passed on from a friend who lives facing Rustavelli.

Someone just drove through the cells at full speed. Took out at least
4 tents. ambulance arrived but unsure if anyone was hurt
20 georgian men chased the car with metal pipes.

(Thanks to Samantha Goldman)

And another article from apsny.ge:

Georgian Interior Ministry on the Events at the Tbilisi Main Police Administration Building

No dispersal of demonstrators took part from the side of the police, the police were attacked, stated today Deputy Interior Minister Eka Zguladze at an emergency briefing.
“This is not a political process, we have become witnesses to dangerous actions. Opposition supporters attacked the police building where the pre-detention facility is located, where there are dangerous criminals, including murder suspects,” she stated.
According to Zguladze, the police did not go beyond the perimeter of the administration territory, as they have orders only to defend state objects from inside. “This was an attack on the police,” Zguladze stated.
The deputy minister stated that despite the fact that several people jumped over the fence and tried to break into the building, the police nevertheless allowed them to leave the perimeter.
“The police do not intend to disperse the opposition, and we call on opposition supporters to refrain from violence,” she said.
According to Zguladze, the situation is gradually calming down, but the opposition is expecting more supporters to arrive and they are demanding that the arrested activists be released.
The opposition leaders have relocated to the statue of David the Builder and are continuing their demonstration.

(Thanks again to Tim Blauvelt)

On the broader issues of the NATO exercises, the Mukhrovani mutiny, the continuing opposition protests, the looming Russian threat, and how they’re all connected, here are two excellent articles from STRATFOR (thanks to Gregory Levonian for the heads up).  Alarming reading.

Watch this space.


2 Responses

  1. I was there, on Rustaveli last night and had just walked past the protestors with a friend. We heard loud crashing sounds, saw smoke, and heard people screaming and running in all directions. That’s when we saw the speeding car heading our direction, where he then continued to drive through the cells and runnign over a man right in front of me. My friend and I were the first people to reach him and called the ambulance. My friend, the thoughtful guy he is, then insisted on taking me home in case things got out of control. On our way to my place, which is right around the corner, we heard the ambulance. Unfortunately, it could not get through the barricades that the protestors had set up weeks ago. My friend and I, as well as another man who was nearby, tore down one of the barricades enough for the ambulance to drive over it and reach the man who had been run over by this lunatic. The man had broken his leg.

  2. This is a good read of a bad day, in a land of very nice people surrounded by too many bad people. I love this little country and its very friendly people. I hope they don’t go down in this political nightmare. While the current US Present, seems to be a person who cares for the little guy, I just cannot see him helping the people of the Georgian Republic.. The Russian know this too. They know how to play hard ball, and certainly are going to do it here. This is a good report of a bad day, in a lovely little land, that for most people, is far away. It saddens me though. I wish there was something I could do. Edmund, in Prague

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