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Some Opposition Parties Warn Against Escalation
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 May.'11 / 15:07

Some of the opposition parties, which are part of the group of eight, not participating in the ongoing rallies, condemned “the violence by the authorities” and warned against further escalation of tensions.
 
“The fact that the Georgian citizens hold demonstration obviously reflects discontent of the society towards the authorities. The Free Democrats condemn the violence by the authorities,” Our Georgia-Free Democrats (OGFD), a party led by Irakli Alasania, said in the statement on May 22.

“We demand to immediately stop politically-motivated arrests of citizens, kidnapping of the participants of the rallies and to release all those who have been illegally arrested,” it said.

The People’s Assembly, an opposition movement backed by ex-parliamentary speaker Nino Burjanadze, which is behind the ongoing rallies in Batumi and Tbilisi, said the police continued arresting its activists. A group of masked men broke into the local office of the People’s Assembly in Batumi last night and arrested there several people. The Interior Ministry said that in connection to “stone-throwing incident” in Batumi the police arrested eleven people.

Today’s violence has again showed that the authorities have not learnt lessons from 2007 November events” when riot police broke up large scale anti-government demonstrations, OGFD said in the statement referring to two separate clashes that occurred at a protest venue outside the public broadcaster on May 22.

“In order to prevent all sorts of provocations, the Free Democrats are demanding to ban presence of policemen without uniforms and without identification badges on a perimeter of the protest site,” OGFD said. “We call on the government to show restraint and not to direct aggression, accumulated as a result of its failures, towards the people standing in the streets and not to bring the country on the verge of civil confrontation.”

Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM), a leading party in the parliamentary minority and part of the group of eight, said the recent developments showed that "the situation is highly explosive and any irrational moves might extremely escalate and complicate the situation, which indeed will be in conflict with the interests of our country and people."

“The Christian Democratic Movement condemns violence no matter which side it is coming from and calls on law enforcement agencies to protect constitutional right of our citizens for freedom of expression and ensure safety of the demonstrators."

“We again call on the government to reconsider the suitability of the military parade planned for 26 May" to mark Georgia’s Independence Day, CDM said.

Another party from the group of eight, the Republican Party, said in the statement that the recent developments, yesterday in Batumi and this morning in Tbilisi, “confirm that the Georgian authorities continue contributing to escalation through repressive and propagandistic means.”

“It is obvious that politically and morally bankrupted authorities already consider the rallies, organized by the People’s Assembly, to be a failure and are now trying to provoke other opposition forces to get involved in the process in order to achieve their goals,” the Republican Party said.

Politicians from the parties in the group of eight have long been claiming that escalation and “radicalization” of the political process was in the interest of the authorities, arguing that escalation would create a pretext for the authorities to shun away from the electoral process talks.

“We call on the citizens of Georgia and political forces not to yield to the government’s provocations and not to get involved in the escalation of violence that will bring deplorable results for the country,” the Republican Party said.

Mamuka Katsitadze of the New Rights Party, also part of the group of eight, said that his party’s position remained unchanged and had no intention to join the rally. “Our strategic position will not be revised,” he said.

He also said that the authorities “caused the ongoing rallies”. “But the political parties are not free of responsibility either. The most important is to prevent violent scenario of developments,” Katsitadze said.

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