Events of May 26, when riot police broke up protest rally, triggered heated debates during the Tuesday’s Parliament session, which saw lawmakers from the parliamentary minority walking out of the chamber.
Some opposition lawmakers were calling for a parliamentary probe, others condemning “punitive police operation” against the protesters and some putting blame on the both sides – the authorities and organizers of the five-day street protests, which came to a violent end shortly after midnight on May 26.
Lawmakers from the ruling party were fully defending the authorities’ actions, saying that an attempt by “Russian-orchestrated political extremist groups” to stage coup through violence was thwarted. They, however, also said that police internal probe into reported cases of “wrongdoings” by the riot police would be carried out and “disciplinary measures” applied if needed.
“It was a well-planned punitive action by the police, which aimed at brutally punishing each and every protester so that to kill desire among others to ever come into the street to express protest. But we all saw know what happened two days later, when thousands marched to express protest. You will never be able to kneel down the Georgian people,” said MP Tsagareishvili, who is a member of the Our Georgia-Free Democrats party, led by Irakli Alasania.
Another opposition lawmaker, Dimitri Lortkipanidze, slammed the police actions saying “they have bathed people in their own blood.” “Police did not let people to run away. Is this dispersal?” MP Lortkipanidze said.
He also said that any time when there is a protest rally, the authorities tried to label it as “Russian provocation.”
A ruling party lawmaker, Giorgi Gabashvili, said during the debates, that police used force not against peaceful protesters, but “against those groups, who were armed with various items” and who “had a pro-Russian revolutionary plan.”
“So, confrontation of the Georgian police against these people in order to thwart their plan to foil marking of Independence Day was a legal action,” he said and added that all “perpetrators” would be held responsible, including those “who are hiding themselves behind a political mask.”
Another senior lawmaker from the ruling party Akaki Minashvili said, that it “is not a tragedy what happened on the night from May 25 to May 26.”
“The tragedy is what was happening from May 21 to May 25 and the fact that politicians are sitting here in this chamber who defend all this,” MP Minashvili said.
“I want to reiterate that the state will never allow certain extremists – I want to stress that they were neither politicians nor protesters, they are extremists – to use violence against citizens and the state. That’s the will of the Georgian society and if you [referring to an opposition MP] will go against it, it will mean that you are not part of the Georgian society; this is clear-cut, not even worth of talking,” he said.
MP Minashvili also said that protest leaders were “epitomizing Russia’s political interests.”
“And they were not making secret of it – we’ve heard those conversations taking place between the members of that ill-mentioned family [referring to a secretly recorded conversation between Nino Burjanadze and her son],” he said. “People hired by a foreign state will never be able to thwart the Independence Day in Georgia.”
MP Giorgi Targamadze, leader of the Christian-Democratic Movement (CDM) and of the parliamentary minority, put blame on some organizers of the dispersed protest rally and in an apparent reference to Nino Burjanadze said: “We will never welcome those people in the Georgian opposition, who try to lead their way into the politics through running over people’s corpses.”
He also said that it was “absolutely obvious that part of the political leaders of the protests” was willing to bring situation to the point of violence.
MP Giorgi Targamadze, however, also said that the authorities were “twice as much responsible, because those events were so clearly predictable.”
“We all spoke about it, foreigners were warning you about it, but it anyway happened,” he said.
He also said that the government “which losses human face, turns into a monster” and that he was insulted with those applauses, accompanying speeches of the ruling party lawmakers. He then said that for that reason he and his fellow MPs from CDM would leave the chamber in protest.
MP Giorgi Tsagareishvili of OGFD called for the parliamentary probe, but the proposal was not even shared by lawmakers from CDM. MP Levan Vepkhvadze of CDM said on May 30, that it would not be appropriate to establish a parliamentary commission at this stage, when internal probe was carried out by the authorities. He said that the Public Defender’s Office should monitor that probe.