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Major Incident so far Makes Standoff Tense
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 12 Apr.'09 / 17:25

Source: Ministry of Internal Affiars

After the late night incident outside the Parliament on April 11, some opposition leaders said there could not be any talks with the authorities.

Nino Burjanadze, a former parliamentary speaker and leader of Democratic Movement-United Georgia party, told a spontaneous rally outside the Parliament on April 12, that the authorities have once again demonstrated their “uncivilized” nature.

“I told European diplomats after the yesterday’s incident: ‘you are telling us to engage in dialogue with the authorities, but unfortunately the authorities are not civilized and you can not have a dialogue with uncivilized authorities’… There will be no dialogue; there will be only one demand – immediate resignation of President Saakashvili,” she told hundreds of protesters outside the Parliament.

The opposition planned to suspend rallies for one day on April 12, when Orthodox Christians mark Palm Sunday. But some opposition leaders have called on supporters following the April 11 incident to gather at 3pm on Sunday for a brief rally.

What has happened late on April 11 outside the Parliament has yet to be clarified. The opposition says that 50-strong mob “attacked” and “raided” the protest venue outside the Parliament damaging some equipment there. The Interior Ministry and the Tbilisi Mayor’s Office said that the incident was triggered by the opposition activists, who have verbally insulted employees of the municipality’s cleaning service.

“This is dishonest lie,” Burjanadze told journalists referring to the official version of events. “I have seen with my own eyes what has happened here last night. Activists of [ruling] National Movement [party] and employees of Constitutional Security Department [of the Interior Ministry], who came here along with cleaning crew, attacked the venue and physically insulting some [of the opposition activists].”

The Interior Ministry has released less than ten minutes of footage from one of the CCTV cameras installed outside the Parliament. The footage is not conclusive enough to make a full picture of what has exactly happened at about 11pm on April 11. The opposition leaders have called on the Interior Ministry to make all the footage from all the CCTV cameras in the area available.

It was the first major incident that occurred during the protest rallies launched on April 9 and organized by more than dozen of opposition parties to demand President Saakashvili’s resignation.

The opposition leaders plan, what they have called, “a new wave” of rallies from Monday, involving picketing and blocking of traffic at various venues in Tbilisi.

Eka Zguladze, the deputy interior minister, told journalists after midnight on Sunday that the police would not intervene.

“The police have been showing maximum restraint, as well as protesters, throughout these days and the police will not intervene and there will be no impediment to the demonstrations no matter how many days they last,” she said.

President Saakashvili made a live televised appearance on Sunday to award a Georgian film director Eldar Shengelaia with highest civilian honor – St. George’s Victory Order; he has not spoken about the political developments in his speech.

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