President Zurabishvili calls for calm, denounces "anti-state actions" during Tbilisi protests

Protesters have continuously clashed with police outside the parliament building in Tbilisi throughout the night. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 21 Jun 2019 - 00:49, Tbilisi,Georgia

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili has called for "calm" amid unrest in Tbilisi as protesting crowds have been dispersed by police using tear gas in front of the parliament building.

Zurabishvili reiterated her position that allowing Russian Duma MP Sergey Gavrilov to speak from the tribune at the Georgian parliament earlier today was a "major crime", however she criticised calls for unrest during the still unfolding events of the evening and late night.

[The indicent with MP Gavrilov] was an insult to the country and its honour, however this cannot excuse the artificially instigated wave [of protests], anti-state actions [and] calls from inside or outside (the country] aimed at storming the parliament and causing a coup," Zurabishvili said in a late night reaction to the violent events.

Georgia's president also said the confrontation and a "division of the society" served the interests of Russia, accusing those instigating clashes in "deliberately or inadvertently carrying out the policy and plans of Russia."

Zurabishvili's comments said it was "time for the state to react to all violations, establish order and prevent destructive forces from accomplishing the plans of Russia."

Protesters have been continuously clashing with police outside the parliament building throughout the evening and late night in Tbilisi, with injuries reported on both sides.

The clashes followed demonstrations earlier in the day, when political opposition and citizen activists gathered outside the lawmaking venue to protest the appearance of Gavrilov at its tribune, on the backdrop of ongoing occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) - Georgia's two regions -  by Russian troops.