Protest Rallies Resume in Tbilisi, Arrests Made

Zaza Saralidze, father of the murdered teen Davit, and Malkhaz Machalikashvili, whose son was killed in anti-terrorist operation in December, have resumed protest rallies at the old building of Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue on Sunday, under the campaign “Do Not Kill Me.”

The protesters demand the resignation of Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia and Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani, blaming them for an incomplete and non-thorough investigation.

Saralidze stated he does not trust the investigation, adding the rallies will continue until all the offenders are punished.

He also says that the new Chief Prosecutor must be elected by people without the participation of the Minister of Justice.

“There NGOs should should nominate a candidate that we can trust," he said at Sunday’s rally.

His comments reflect those of numerous NGOS which stated in early June, “The majority of reforms declared by the government in the system of law-enforcement and the judiciary has proven to be pro-forma and these reforms have done nothing to eliminate the public’s sense of deep injustice and vulnerability,” the NGOS stated. “Recent high-profile cases have clearly shown the problem of excessive use of authority by law-enforcement, which has not been followed by an effective investigation.”

Prime Minister Kvirikashvili responded to the concerns at the time by stating, “I take it as my personal responsibility to get results in this case.”

This weekend, Georgian police arrested two men, former high-ranking officials of the Prosecutor’s Office, Mirza Subeliani and Merab Morchadze, on charges of failure to report a crime and exertion of influence on a witness, respectively.

Officers from the Police Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs have since detained 19 persons at the rally being held on Rustaveli Avenue.

“Eight persons were arrested under Articles 166 and 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of Georgia, including Irakli Nadiradze, member of Tbilisi City Council, and members of the National Movement party. These persons violated the public order, verbally insulted law enforcers and did not obey the legal requirements of the police. In addition, Nika Melia, a member of the National Movement, who was thought to have been arrested was not but was forced to leave Rustaveli Avenue in order prevent an offence,” the Chairman of Parliament Irakli Kobakhidze said at the Parliament Bureau sitting.

Zviad Kuprava was detained on Rustaveli Avenue and, alongside three others, was sentenced to 14 days administrative imprisonment.

"It is as important for the Ministry of Internal Affairs to be responsible for protecting the law as it is that freedom of expression is guaranteed,” the MIA statement read.

By Thea Morrison

11 June 2018 20:20