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Nikoloz Urushadze, Sera Dzenaladze, Tbel Abuseridze
The protest wave #thisisembarassing was born out of events that took place on 20 June 2019 when Georgia was hosting the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy in the building of the Parliament. On that day, the photo leaked in the Internet that showed Sergey Gavrilov, the Russian Communist Party member, in the seat of the Chairman of the Parliament. This photo, heavy with connotations and interpretations, caused a major discontent in the society, to the point that the event had to be canceled and Gavrilov had to leave the country. A peaceful demonstration in front of the Parliament was organized to protest a member of Russian DUMA sitting in the seat of the Chairman of Georgian Parliament, demanding the resignation of the Chairman Irakli Kobakhidze. Russia’s politics of creeping occupation was also actively marched against.
The protesters were joined by different opposition parties, who tried to turn the peaceful protest into civil unrest. They started calling for disobedience, for breaking into the parliament, and people soon started attacking the policemen (Special Forces) that stood in front of the Parliament - dragging them into the crowds, removing their helmets and the equipment. Closer to the midnight, the Special Forces started dispersing the crowds with tear gas and later rubber bullets, without announcing warnings beforehand. As a result of this spree, 240 people got injured, including journalists, photographers, civilians and policemen. 2 people lost their eyes. The raid continued pretty much the whole night and a lot of people were also arrested. After the night that is also referred to as the ‘Gavrilov Night’, the protesters started covering one eye as an act of solidarity towards the civilians who got injured and as a reminder for the government as to what their actions led to. The demonstrants started demanding the Minister of the Internal Affairs, Giorgi Gakharia, also resign since his orders had resulted in such tragic outcomes. The photos presented are from the first week of protests, the demonstrations continued throughout the whole summer. As a result, Irakli Kobakhidze resigned from his post, the electoral system is changed; however, Gakharia is now the Prime Minister. The demonstrations are still taking place.
Text by Ellen Kapanadze