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Georgia: Rally held in Tbilisi in commemoration of 2007 anti-government protest

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A protest rally marking the anniversary of a landmark anti-government protest on November 7 in 2007 took place on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi on Sunday.

The protest, held in 2007, was part of a wider wave of protests attended by thousands in opposition to the government, which was at the time presided by Mikheil Saakashvili.

On the day of the 2007 protest, riot police clamped down on protesters with force and a state of emergency was declared by Saakashvili.

Footage of the police beatings from the 2007 protest was shown during the commemorative rally on Sunday, with speeches made by various Georgian politicians and activists.

Georgi Haindrava, Georgia’s former minister for conflict resolution, said that former president Mikheil Saakashvili had “[bathed] his own people in blood.”

“He can’t return to power through elections. He and his henchmen want to destroy Georgia, to seize power in the country by force. It will never happen”, said Giorgi Tsagareishvili, a former member of the Georgian Parliament.

The anti-Saakashvili protests of 2007 began after the arrest of former defence minister and opposition figure Irakli Okruashvili, who was faced with a number of charges, including corruption during his time as minister.

Following the arrest, Okruashvili’s supporters rallied and demanded fresh elections and the resignation of Saakashvili.

Saakashvili was detained in October and is currently at Rustavi prison.

The former president had previously been placed on the domestic wanted list for the murder of banker Sandro Girgvliani and the beating of MP Valery Gelashvili, for which he was sentenced in absentia to three and six years’ imprisonment respectively.

While in jail, Saakashvili went on hunger strike, describing himself as a political prisoner.

Supporters of the ex-president collected signatures on a petition addressed to the Georgian president and government demanding the former leader’s release.

SOT, Goga Khaindrava, Former Georgian minister for conflict resolution (Russian): “Today is the day when Georgia showed the whole world that we will by no means go along with this pseudo-liberal, I don’t even know what to call it, absolutely false pseudo-democracy, which was represented by this beacon of democracy Saakashvili, who [bathed] his own people in blood.”

SOT, Goga Khaindrava, Former Georgian minister for conflict resolution (Russian): “Today they are also trying to revive violence in Georgia; this will not happen, this country has gone in a different direction a long time ago. Most importantly, the true Western values, which we hear a lot about, are Christian values, from which this country has never deviated.”

SOT, Goga Khaindrava, former Member of the Georgian Parliament (Russian): “I think that one of the most terrible days in the modern history of Georgia was when the government dispersed a rally of people, somewhere 13-14 years have already passed, but these wounds do not heal in any way. Here people came; everyone remembers what happened in this square, how they beat people, protesting peaceful people.”

SOT, Giorgi Tsagareishvili, Former member of Georgian Parliament (Russian): “People will always remember November 7, 2007. What can I say about Saakashvili? He can’t return to power through elections. He and his henchmen want to destroy Georgia, to seize power in the country by force. It will never happen.”

SOT, Giorgi Tsagareishvili, Former member of Georgian Parliament (Russian): “We remember very well how Georgia developed during his [Saakashvili’s] reign, how dozens of people were killed, how men were raped in Georgian prisons, how people were beaten during a protest in the streets of Georgia. If anyone thinks that this is a development, we do not want such a development.”

#Georgia #Tbilisi #Saakashivili #Okruashvili

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