Democracy Research Institute responds to arrests of protesters on November 28

The Democracy Research Institute is responding to the arrest of civil activists at the protest held near the Parliament’s back entrance on November 28 and argues that the lack of response to the cases of abuse of power towards peaceful demonstrators and the prosecution of affected persons instead will decrease public trust and undermine fundamental principles of a democratic society.

According to the civil activists, they held a spontaneous event to protest the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry,[1] which started at about 15:00. The event was initially calm. The situation escalated after police unjustifiably denied protesters to make inscriptions on the metal construction erected at the Parliament’s back entrance (not a part of the building). Disobedience to the police request allegedly led to the arrest of one activist, while another activist suffered health damage during the arrest.

The Democracy Research Institute clarifies that Article 173 of the Administrative Offences Code provides for liability for disobedience to the law enforcement officer's lawful request. An unlawful request, and therefore disobedience to that request, does not result in the consequences referred to in Article 173 of the Administrative Offences Code.

We may assume that the police tried to correct the above mistake by later allowing the civil activists and politicians to make inscriptions on the construction erected near the Parliament’s entrance. As for the detainees, proceedings were launched against them for an alleged administrative offence that cannot be confirmed by any of the neutral witnesses.

The Democracy Research Institute notes that, unfortunately,  the issue of the relevance and veracity of the evidence submitted against demonstrators detained by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, low burden of proof and insufficient standards of the protection of rights have been serious problems in recent years. The veracity of the testimony given by the witness police officers against detained demonstrators has been repeatedly questioned.[2] It is important that these shortcomings be not repeated in relation to the activists detained during the November 28 rally. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that the activist's health was damaged during the arrest, which was not followed by a proper response by the law enforcement agencies.

The Democracy Research Institute believes that the State should have a proper mechanism in place to thoroughly investigate the increased number of allegations of abuse of power by law enforcement officials against peaceful demonstrators. Leaving similar cases responded and prosecuting affected demonstrators for administrative offences instead leads to the loss of trust towards institutions and undermines the fundamental principles of a democratic society.


[1] The information was later denied by the Georgian Foreign Ministry.

[2] Democracy Research Institute, Rallies under Observation, Tbilisi 2019, available at: