Thousands of protesters try to storm Georgia parliament

Policemen attempt to block protesters during a rally against the visit of a Russian delegation near the parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia. (Reuters)
Updated 20 June 2019

Thousands of protesters try to storm Georgia parliament

  • Tens of thousands rallied in Tbilisi, demanding speaker Irakli Kobakhidze step down after a Russian lawmaker addressed the country’s parliament from the speaker’s seat
  • The Russian MP’s presence in Georgia’s parliament prompted outrage in the ex-Soviet nation which in 2008 fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow

TBILISI: Thousands of protesters attempted Thursday to storm the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi, furious that a Russian lawmaker addressed the assembly from the speaker’s seat during an international event.
Demanding that the parliamentary speaker resign, about 10,000 protesters broke riot police cordons to enter the parliament courtyard, an AFP reporter witnessed. Police pushed them back, but several protesters continued trying to enter the building.
Earlier, tens of thousands rallied in central Tbilisi, demanding speaker Irakli Kobakhidze step down after a Russian lawmaker controversially addressed the country’s parliament from the speaker’s seat.
Russian Communist lawmaker Sergei Gavrilov was speaking during an annual meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), a forum of lawmakers from predominantly Orthodox countries.
The Russian MP’s presence in fiercely pro-Western Georgia’s parliament prompted outrage in the ex-Soviet nation which in 2008 fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow over breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
A group of Georgian opposition lawmakers demanded the Russian delegation leave the parliament’s plenary chamber.
Many protesters held Georgian and EU flags and placards that read “Russia is an occupier.”
“This is a spontaneous protest by ordinary Georgians, it has not been organized by any political party,” an MP from opposition European Georgia party, Giga Bokeria, told AFP at the rally.
Georgian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili — widely believed to be calling the shots in Georgia as the leader of his ruling Georgian Dream party — said in a statement that he “fully shares the sincere outrage of the Georgian citizens.”
He added that he told the speaker to suspend the session.
“It is unacceptable that a representative of the occupier country chairs a forum in the Georgian parliament,” Ivanishvili said.


Pope urges international solidarity for Lebanon

Updated 09 August 2020

Pope urges international solidarity for Lebanon

  • The church in Lebanon should stay close to the people in their hour of need, the Pope said

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis urged international solidarity with Lebanon Sunday, in the wake of the explosion that devastated the capital Beirut and as France hosts an international donors conference to aid reconstruction efforts.
He also called on church leaders in Lebanon to lead by example.
“Last Tuesday’s catastrophe calls on all of us, starting with the Lebanese people, to work together for the common good of this beloved country,” he said.
The church in Lebanon should stay close to the people in their hour of need, with “solidarity and compassion,” he said, speaking after weekly prayers in Saint Peter’s Square.
“I also renew my appeal for generous help from the international community.
Pope Francis was speaking as French President Emmanuel Macron hosts a UN-backed virtual conference to drum up aid for Lebanon after the massive Beirut port blast.