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Four injured, 37 detained in Tbilisi protests - ministry

Nov 19, 2019

Tbilisi (Georgia) Nov 19: A total of 37 people have been detained and four injured in the protests outside the Georgian parliament, the country's Interior Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
"On November 18, during the rally outside the parliament, 37 people in total had been detained for 'disobeying the legitimate orders of law-enforcement officers' and 'petty hooliganism'," the ministry said in a statement.
According to the document, four people - two of them police officers - were injured in the unrest. All of them were taken to hospitals.
On Monday afternoon, riot police units of the Georgian Interior Ministry used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protestors who blocked all entrances to the country's parliament. The Rustaveli Avenue, where the parliament building is located, is now open for traffic. Although groups of protesters are still present in the area, they are standing on sidewalks and do not block roads.
Meanwhile, the country's health ministry said three people had been admitted to hospitals in the wake of the unrest, including one police officer.
"Ambulance crews delivered only three people to medical facilities. Among them is a police officer, who was injured in the head. He was delivered to undergo the required examinations," the ministry said in a statement.
According to the statement, the other two individuals listed as injured are a 44-year-old man hospitalized with chest pain and a 27-year-old young man who passed out when the rally was being dispersed.
Rallies to continue
Aleko Elisashvili, who heads the Civil Movement of Georgia party, said the opposition would continue to stage protests outside the parliament's building to demand early parliamentary elections under the system of proportional representation.
"We will continue picketing buildings and blocking traffic and will keep doing so until early elections are declared. Now that the rally had been dispersed I feel even more invigorated," he told reporters.
Earlier, lawmaker Elene Khoshtaria, who is also a leader of the Movement for Liberty - European Georgia opposition party, also vowed to take part in the protests.
Other opposition parties have so far made no public declarations about taking part in the planned protests.
Wave of protests
The protests erupted in Tbilisi after the parliament failed to approve constitutional amendments on November 14 to hold a proportional representation election in 2020. For amendments to pass, 113 members needed to support them out of 150, while only 101 members voted for the changes. It was mainly members of parliament representing the ruling Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia party who were elected in first-past-the-post constituencies that abstained in the vote.
Protestors are blaming chair of the ruling party Bidzina Ivanishvili for what happened even though it was him who announced in June that the country was moving away from the mixed election system to a fully proportional one. Protestors were rallying in front of the parliament for three months, demanding that the next election was held under the new proportional representation system. The upcoming election is scheduled to take place in October 2020.
On Sunday, thousands of opposition party supporters gathered in the central Rustaveli Avenue, demanding a snap election using a system of proportional representation.
At the rally, leaders of the United National Movement and Movement for Liberty - European Georgia parties decided to picket all entrances to the parliament to stall members of parliament. They attached chains and locks to the entrances and set up tent camps.
Protesters said they would unlock doors only when deputies would gather in the parliament to call a snap election and introduce amendments to the legislation that will ensure that it is held using the proportional representation system.
On Monday morning, several lawmakers attempted to enter the parliament building, but were not allowed to do so. Only parliament staff members were permitted to enter.
Source: TASS