Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili spoke about the Batumi riots on the night of 11-12 March. He said that the people who participated in the riots, and the people who encouraged the rioters, should be punished.
“The investigation is ongoing. In the first stage, individuals were arrested on the administrative level. Now there is a deeper investigation in regards to criminal offences. All those who acted against the most important thing in the country, its stability, should be punished,” Prime Minister Kvirikashvili stated.
Prime Minister Kvirikashvili pointed a finger at the former ruling United National Movement, now in opposition, for allegedly encouraging the protesters the night of March 11th:
“We know exactly how certain politicians were trying to keep up the mood during the night, and if we had not suppressed that mood, they might have kept at it until the morning. The mood for protest does not exist in our country; and that was the failure of those politicians. They saw that they did not achieve their aim and disgracefully started to blame the government [for suppressing the riot].
Part of the United National Movement was encouraging protesters and played on people’s emotions. They did what they wanted, however they couldn’t manage to succeed, and failed. We saw how they were trying to gather people [to protest] in Tbilisi, Rustavi, Kutaisi - and they couldn’t get more than 20-25 people out. They made absolutely shameless statements. The whole responsibility is, of course, on their shoulders.”
“We will wait for the investigation,” the prime minister concluded.
Protests erupted in Georgia’s Black Sea city of Batumi in the evening of March 11th, after two individuals were arrested for resisting police after they were given a parking fine. Protesters then gathered at the Batumi Plaza demanding for the detained men to be freed, saying police had used force against the two men. A simultaneous riot took place outside the main police department of Adjara. Police used tear gas after protesters started throwing stones at riot police. Rioters damaged police cars.
The situation stabilized in the early hours of March 12th, when the rioters dispersed. According to official information, around 30 people were hospitalized, including police officers injured in the protest. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 40 individuals were detained at the protest; according to the Ombudsman of Georgia, 75 people were detained that night. The Ombudsman also says that some of those who were detained were not from Batumi.