A participant of an anti-violence rally in Tbilisi on May 28 wears black ribbon to honor those who have died during the May 26 events. Photo: Guram Muradov/Civil.ge
The Interior Ministry said on Monday that despite of its calls for submission of information about reported missing persons following the dispersal of the May 26 rally, no such formal application had been put before the police so far.
“The Interior Ministry states that it considers none of the citizen as missing,” the ministry said in a statement on May 30.
The Georgian Public Defender said on May 27 that “whereabouts of several dozen of persons remain unknown” following the dispersal of the rally outside the Parliament shortly after midnight on May 26.
On May 30 a legal advocacy group, Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), released a list of 50 persons, who are believed to be missing. Later the number of individuals in the list came down to 47. GYLA said that the list had been compiled based on information obtained from family members of missing persons and reports from the media outlets. GYLA said that the list had been compared to those of the Interior Ministry and the Public Defender, which contain individuals arrested before and during the dispersal of the rally.
“We do not rule out that the present list may contain inaccuracies, in particular it may contain those individuals who have already returned back to their families, but have not reported about it back to us,” GYLA said in a statement. “But because the risk is high that whereabouts of these individuals may still be unknown and because of high public interests towards the list, we deemed it appropriate to make it public.”
One policeman and at least three protesters died on the night when the rally outside the Parliament was dispersed by the riot police with water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas, shortly after the demonstration’s permit to continue rallying on the Rustaveli Avenue expired.
According to the Interior Ministry none of the deaths were caused by the riot police actions.
The death of a policeman and one protester has been attributed to a car crash when a motorcade, taking several protest leaders, including Nino Burjanadze, away from the protest scene, drove into the crowd.
According to the official version, the death of two other protesters was caused by electrocution on a roof of a shop, close to the protest venue.
The official version of circumstances of death of at least one protester – Nika Kvintradze, who according to the police died of electrocution - however, have been questioned after a man, who says is a friend of Kvintradze, claimed that the latter was arrested by the police during the dispersal of the rally; he also claims that he identified his friend on a photo from the protest scene where Kvintradze is handcrafted among other arrested protesters.
A screengrab from the Report of the Week TV program, produced by studio GNS and aired by Maestro TV in which a man points finger on an arrested protester, claiming that he is his friend Nika Kvintradze, who the police say died of electrocution on a roof of a shop close to the protest venue.
The photo shows about a dozen of arrested protesters on the Rustaveli Avenue; one of them is laying face-down on the ground with hands tied behind his back. Rezo Rekhviashvili told the Report of the Week program aired by the Maestro TV on Sunday that the man laying face-down on the ground is his friend Nika Kvintradze with whom he was at the protest rally when the riot police moved in. He said that it would have been impossible for Kvintradze to escape from the police after he was arrested.
According to the Interior Ministry, although the investigation is not yet concluded into the circumstances of death of Kvintradze and another protester, whose body was also found on a roof of a shop close to the protest venue, a forensic expertise had confirmed the death was caused by electrocution.