Several opposition parties and groups said they would hold a protest rally on May 6, when the Interior Ministry plans to mark the newly proclaimed Georgian Police Day.
Opposition groups, including Levan Gachechiladze’s public movement Defend Georgia; National Council (Conservative Party, Party of People and Movement for Fair Georgia); Nino Burjanadze’s Democratic Movement-United Georgia, said on May 3 that proclaiming May 6 as the Police Day was unacceptable and “cynical” for two reasons.
The first reason, cited by them, was that May 6 is celebrated as St. George’s Day and the second reason, they said, was that May 6 also marks one year anniversary of a confrontation that took place at Tbilisi police headquarters in which dozens of protesters were injured, including several opposition leaders, when the police fired projectiles from less-lethal launchers.
Organizers of the protest rally said that they would hold a demonstration in vicinity of the Interior Ministry headquarters in Tbilisi suburb on May 6, when the ministry plans to hold a parade of police forces to mark the newly proclaimed Police Day. Organizers also said that they would also hold the protest rally later on May 6 outside the Tbilisi police headquarters.
Alliance for Georgia, whose leader Irakli Alasania runs for Tbilisi mayor, said although it was also against of proclaiming May 6 as the Police Day, it would not be joining the protest rally.
Interior Minister, Vano Merabishvili, defended the decision about the Police Day date in a letter published on May 4 in the Georgian newspaper 24 Saati saying that May 6 was deemed as the most appropriate date.
“So far the Georgian police marked its professional day on November 10 – a police day and November 30 – security officers’ day. Both of these dates were total anachronism, because the first one marked the establishment of the Soviet police and the second one – Soviet Cheka [Bolshevik secret police and a predecessor of the Soviet security bodies – NKVD and then KGB],” Merabishvili says in the letter.
He said that May 6 was chosen because this date “is associated with positive emotions for most of the Georgian citizens – it is St. George’s Day and at the same time this is the day when Adjara was liberated from Aslan Abashidze’s regime” in 2004.
In the letter, Merabishvili lists achievements, which he says, the Georgian police achieved as a result of reforms in recent years, including reduced crime rate.
“The major achievement is that the police enjoys with sympathies of large part of the Georgian population. In order to preserve this achievement in the future too, a lot needs to be done, including it is important for the police to always stay away from the politics,” Merabishvili writes.