The Democracy Research Institute has been monitoring political protests organized by political parties and civil movements during the pre-election campaign since September 2020. In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the organization’s observers also monitor the adherence to the regulations related to the prevention of the Covid-19 infection by the organizers and protesters.
On November 8, 2020, the rally held near the Parliament of Georgia was monitored by two observers of the organization, who later moved to the Central Election Commission (CEC) together with protesters.
The rally was initially calm. Protesters started to gather at 14:00. By 15:00, they had occupied the area in front of the Parliament, including the Park of the Tbilisi Classical Gymnasium. According to the observers, about 40,000 people attended the rally organized by opposition political parties.
During the rally, part of the Covid-19-related regulations were mainly observed. The vast majority of protesters wore masks, though, in many cases, incorrectly. The organizers of the rally regularly called on the protesters to keep distance as much as possible and wear a mask, emphasizing the importance of wearing it correctly. However, maintaining distance between protesters was often physically impossible due to the number of protesters.
The main demands of the rally organizers were: appointment of new parliamentary elections and resignation of Tamar Zhvania, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission. To meet these demands, the opposition formally set 20:00 as a deadline for the Government. After the demands had not been satisfied, one of the leaders of the National Movement, Nikanor Melia, called on the protesters to march towards the administrative building of the Central Election Commission. Most of the protesters walked, while some of them went by car.
Observers of the Democracy Research Institute were in the vicinity of the at 21.20. By that time police had already used water cannon against about 250 people in the vicinity of CEC. As the demonstrators told our observers, before the arrival of most of the opposition leaders and protesters, the police used water cannon against them suddenly, without warning, resulting in various injuries among both the protesters and representatives of the media. The protesters started throwing stones at police in response to the use of water cannon. According to the observation protocol of the observer of the Democracy Research Institute one of the protesters allegedly used the so-called "Molotov cocktail".
The situation became relatively stable after the arrival of the majority of opposition leaders and protesters. The rally was relatively quiet from 22:00 to 00:00. About 5,000 people attended the rally in the above period. The rally was regulated by about 300 officers of patrol police, criminal police and riot police.
After the use of the special equipment (water cannon and pepper spray) against the protesters was assessed as disproportionate and illegal, the police started to use audio warning urging the protesters to leave the area; otherwise they warned to take legal measures. Despite the warning, the protesters did not leave the area. At around 00:30, police again used water cannon against the protesters as they stood close to the wall erected by the police and due to their aggression against the police officers, which further strained relations between the protesters and the law enforcement officers. At the same time, the riot police started moving in the direction of people with the so-called "robocops", after which, most of the protesters moved in the direction of the highway.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, up to 14 law enforcement officers, 3 representatives of the media and up to 10 protesters received various health injuries at the rally. Police arrested a total of 19 people under administrative procedure for violating public order and disobeying the lawful request of the police.
Later, the opposition leaders called on the protesters to leave the area and gather again in front of the Parliament on November 9, at 18:00. Following the call, most of the protesters left the territory of the Central Election Commission.