Deputy Interior Minister on Tbilisi rallies: police can use force without an order when attacked

Deputy Interior Minister Natia Mezvrishvili says that policemen were defending themselves during the June 20 rally. Photo: Nino Alavidze/, 04 Jul 2019 - 14:22, Tbilisi,Georgia

Deputy Interior Minister Natia Mezvrishvili says that police were attacked during the June 20 rally in Tbilisi and they were forced to defend themselves and use force.

In such situations policemen have the right to act without an order,” Mezvrishvili said, responding to a question as to who ordered the rally dispersal that night.

Mezvrishvili says that it is less important who made the order, or whether the police acted without the order of top officials.

I would ask the question in this way: was the action of police lawful?” Mezvrishvili said.

Mezvrishvili hs made her first comments on Tbilisi rallies. Photo: Interior Ministry press office. 

She stated that police were attacked by various items and groups of demonstrators were trying to take away their shields, helmets and other defensive measures.

How would you have acted in such a situation?” Mezvrishvili asked the media.

She said that the reason why the investigation is still ongoing regarding the June 20 developments is that thousands of people should have been questioned and hundreds of video clips studied.

It is a large case, involving many people and situations and it was impossible for the investigation to be completed in several days,” Mezvrishvili said.

Mezvrishvili stated that only the Interior Ministry units stood on the Rustaveli Square that night.

Head of the Special Tasks Department of the Interior Ministry Giorgi Kakichashvili has been temporarily suspended from his duties until the investigation is over.

The opposition says that the government is trying to find scapegoats in ordinary policemen to retain Giorgi Gakharia as interior minister.

The bust of Interior Minister placed by demonstrators on Rustaveli Avenue. Photo: Nino Alavidze/

They say that Gakharia is responsible for the rally dispersal and he must resign, the only demand of the demonstrators which has not been met by the government.

 Minister of Infrastructure Maia Tskitishvili stated earlier today that “Gakharia’s political responsibility is that he stays in the post and carries out all the actions the ministry to work properly.”

Gakharia and Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze say that the use of force during the rally was “legitimate,” as demonstrators tried to storm the parliament building.

Bakhtadze said that Georgia’s foreign partners “have no question marks” on the legality of the use of force.

Gakharia says that he will resign if the investigation reveals illegalities regarding the rally.

The gov't says that the opposition stirred unrest on JUne 20. Photo: Nino Alavidze/ 

Rallies in Tbilisi were sparked after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov took the seat of the Georgian parliamentary speaker early on June 20 and addressed the audience during the  Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy.

People took to the streets as they believed that Gavrilov, from the occupant country, must not have been allowed to take the high tribune in the Georgian legislative body.

The government says that the “justified protest” of the Georgian people was used by the “destructive opposition” to attack state institutions.