Democracy Research Institute monitors the ongoing rallies

Monitors of the Democracy Research Institute observed the protests in front of the Parliament of Georgia and Bidzina Ivanishvili's business center on February 17 and 18.

February 18

Rally in front of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s business center

Monitors at the Democracy Research Institute observed a rally organized by the Dare civic movement near the business center of Bidzina Ivanishvili, Chairman of the Georgian Dream party, in Sololaki, on February 18, 2020, during which, law enforcement officers completely blocked the part of the tunnel, which is an entrance to the Tbilisi Botanical Garden on the one hand and Bidzina Ivanishvili’s business center on the other hand. This action did not allow demonstrates to move freely.

The Democracy Research Institute considers that the actions of the law enforcement agencies cannot be considered a proportionate measure to protect public safety, since, in the given case, the nature of assembly, the number of people involved in it or their actions did not pose a real or specific threat to public safety.

Therefore, the police measure used by law enforcers - complete blockage of an entrance to the public space, was not necessary or proportionate in its nature, since the likely aim of the police – to achieve "public safety" – could have been ensured by other, less restrictive means.

The Democracy Research Institute beleives that the abovementioned measure illegally restricted the right to assembly and free movement in public space, without any objective grounds.

Rally near the Parliament building

According to the monitors of the Democracy Research Institute, about 200 people took part in the rally near the Parliament building. Around 130 officers of patrol and criminal police were mobilized on the territory around the Parliament (on Sh. Chitadze and D. Chichinadze Streets).

Demonstrators made a "corridor of shame", and whistled and shouted at the lawmakers entering or leaving the Parliament building. Later, the activists on Chitadze Street began marching in the direction of Chichinadze Street and joined a rally there.

The patrol police blocked Chichinadze Street due to the number of demonstrators. Although traffic was restricted on the street, the law enforcers urged the demonstrators to leave the roadway, though the activists disobeyed. The law enforcers tried to force the protesters out of the area (by pushing them), but in vain. The above became a reason for verbal confrontation between the protesters and the police.

February 17

On February 17, activists of the Lelo for Georgia political party and the Change civic movement protested against the nomination of Irakli Shotadze as a candidate for the post of the Prosecutor General of Georgia in front of the Parliament.

According to the monitors of the Democracy Research Institute, about 30 people took part in the rally. Around 40 officers of patrol and criminal police were mobilized in the vicinity of the Parliament building.

The rally was peaceful, but there was a verbal confrontation between the protesters and a Georgian Dream supporter. The tension was eliminated by the police. The activists of the Change movement splashed red paint on the roadway at the Parliament’s back entrance, against the responsibility[1] provided for by the Administrative Offences Code. The protesters said the red paint was a symbol of many bloody cases not investigated by Irakli Shotadze. Police officers did not prevent the activists from doing the above.

Obstacles faced by demonstrators

Some demonstrators, despite having an entry permission, were not allowed to enter the building for unclear reasons, which caused a small confrontation between the patrol police and civil activists.

The election of the Prosecutor General represents a matter of particular public interest, especially given that Irakli Shotadze, whose candidate was submitted to the Parliament, had already served as Prosecutor General in 2015-2018 and resigned amid mass protests. Accordingly, the avoidance of expected discomfort for the candidate nominated for the Prosecutor General’s post may not be regarded as a legitimate aim to justify the impediment to the entry of a citizen concerned, who has an appropriate permission, into the building of a public institution.

The Democracy Research Institute considers that the above was not the first case,[2] when protesters were not allowed to enter an administrative building despite their permissions, which contradicts the principle of publicity and accessibility of representative bodies and represents wrong practice.




[1] Administrative Offences Code, Article 150, part 21.

[2] Despite their permits, protesters were not allowed to enter the Parliament building on January 21 or the City Assembly building on January 27 either.