DRI: The Government's selective attitude towards protesters incites aggression of violent groups
The Democracy Research Institute echoes the police response to the protest rally organized by the Conservative Movement/Alt-Info near Nata Peradze's house on January 10. The police provided protection for the activist, however, the different attitude of the law enforcement officers towards the violent participants in the protest rally once again proves the Government's loyal policy towards extremist groups and incites further violence. In comparison, at a peaceful demonstration held on June 2, 2023, police arrested civil activists, lawyers, and representatives of non-governmental organizations for a blank paper.

On January 9, civil activist Nata Peradze splashed paint onto the icon of Matrona of Moscow, where Joseph Stalin is also depicted, as a sign of protest. The Ministry of Internal Affairs started an investigation into the mentioned case under Article 166 of the Administrative Offences Code, which pertains to petty hooliganism. Representatives of violent groups spread threatening calls towards the civil activist.
On January 10, members of the Conservative Movement/Alt-Info and their supporters gathered near Nata Peradze's house and protested against the splashing of paint onto the icon. The participants in the rally accused Nata Peradze of "insulting the icon" and declared that they would themselves “do what the State and the law did not do". The participants in the violent rally did not comply with the call of the law enforcement officers and tried to break through the police cordon. They voiced threatening statements towards both Nata Peradze and opposition television journalists.

The Democracy Research Institute believes that the Ministry of Internal Affairs a provided protection for the activist by mobilizing a large number of police officers and blocking the road near her house with a police cordon. Publicly disseminated footage shows that the police did not allow the protesters to break through the law enforcement chain. 

Nevertheless, the loyal attitude of the law enforcement officers towards the participants in the violent rally was evident - the law enforcement officers did not use the measures provided for by law against the violent participants in the rally for disobedience to the legal request of the police, which continues the Government's loyal policy and incites violence. The Democracy Research Institute considers that the response of the police to peaceful protests is characterized by much more rigidity than to the aggressive actions of the participants in violent demonstrations.

After the rally, activists supporting Nata Peradze were verbally and physically assaulted in the vicinity of the rally, which has not been responded by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as far as we are aware as of now.  

DRI urges the Ministry of Internal Affairs to act within the framework of the law, to start an investigation into the assault, not to allow the violent extremist groups to violate the norms established by law and in case of such violations, to immediately respond to each of them.