Opposition Holds Protest Rallies on Inauguration Day
The United Opposition, a coalition of eleven political parties led by the United National Movement, held rallies at various locations across the country to protest against Salome Zurabishvili’s inauguration. The rallies were convened in Batumi, Zugdidi, Kutaisi and Tbilisi.
The main demonstration – scheduled to take place in Telavi, in parallel to the inauguration ceremony – was disrupted as opposition convoy travelling from Tbilisi was stopped by police cordons in village Velistsikhe of neighbouring Gurjaani Municipality.
Several incidents took place as activists attempted to unblock the police cordons (see the Velistsikhe-Telavi route here). Police offered an alternative route to the protesters (see the route here), but opposition leaders rejected the proposal saying that road too was blocked.
The protesters managed to break through the first police cordon, but were stopped few hundred meters away. They continued on foot, but were again halted at a nearby location. Standoff, interrupted with occasional confrontations ensued for several hours until the end of the inauguration ceremony.
Opposition activists moved in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi, where the protest continued until late-night. Some activists erected tents in the area and stayed overnight.
The Interior Ministry announced it would impose “temporary traffic restrictions towards Kakheti and in the town of Telavi” earlier on December 16, citing security reasons. Later, the police said the opposition “intentionally provoked the processes,” and that it would inquire into the incidents and bring all perpetrators to justice.
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