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IDPs, Street Vendors Protest Grows into Scuffle with Police
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Aug.'10 / 00:06

Police arrested two opposition activists amid scuffle with protesters outside the Parliament on August 19.

The August 19 rally was the largest and latest in the series of protests held in recent weeks by a group of internally displaced persons and outdoor vendors. IDPs are protesting against spate of evictions from the state-owned buildings in Tbilisi and street traders are protesting against ban on outdoor vending.

This recent rally, which like the previous ones was organized by Lasha Chkhartishvili of opposition Conservative Party and Alexander Shalamberidze of opposition Party of People, started outside the presidential palace in Avlabari district of the capital city. It then continued with a march towards the Parliament building partially blocking the traffic.

Scuffle between the police and protesters started when the demonstrators arrived outside the Parliament building.

When the police tried to arrest Chkhartishvili with several policemen grabbing his arms and legs taking him on the other side of the road, a group of protesters, mainly females, rushed after them and scuffled with the policemen trying to prevent the arrest. Although at one point during the few minutes of scuffle Chkhartishvili called on supporters to step back, protesters managed to take him away from the police hands. Shortly after that Chkhartishvili called on protesters to disperse, but also said that rallies would continue in following days. The police arrested Alexander Shalamberidze of Party of People and one activist from pro-opposition youth group, Ara (no). The two men were released later on the same day after court fined them with GEL 400 each for resisting police orders. 
 
The protest rally and consequent scuffle with the police was extensively covered by two Tbilisi-based television stations, Kavkasia and Maestro, while ignored by all three major national television stations, including the public broadcaster.

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