The Movement for Liberty - European Georgia opposition party held a “No to Russian Fascism” rally at 20:00 today on Aghmashenebeli Avenue in Tbilisi. The rally was a response to the Georgian March demonstration which took place on the same street last week which was organized by an ultra-nationalist group.
The demonstrators protested against Russian occupation, violence, hate speech, racism and xenophobia. They said that all tactics designed by Russian ‘soft power’ promoting xenophobia and persecution of certain groups are unacceptable.
"This rally is a clear demonstration that Russian fascism will not be established in Georgia and these abusers who are nourished by the government will not speak on our behalf. Georgia is a peaceful, free, and European country. They have the right to organize the march, but no one in Georgia will have the right to use violence,” European Georgia’s candidate for Tbilisi mayor, Elene Khoshtaria, said at the rally.
Former Tbilisi mayor and European Georgia leader Gigi Ugulava said that “fascism in Georgia is being fed by the Georgian government.”
Members of the opposition Republican party and Free Democrats were also at the rally.
Leaders of the July 14 Georgian March planned to hold a counter-rally in the same location.
Patriarch of Georgia Ilia II issued an official statement earlier calling on both sides not to hold their demonstrations.
The Georgian March protesters, led by Sandro Bregadze, Tristan Tsitelashvili, Jondi Baghaturia, and Dimitri Lortkipanidze held a counter-presence on Aghmashenabeli avenue, despite Bregadze earlier stating that “obeys the Patriarch” and would refrain from holding a counter-protest. The demonstrators said that each person was expresses their protest individually, not as an organized group.
Members of the Georgian March used abusive language and threw brooms, tomatoes, and bottles at the “No to Russian Fascism” protesters. A large number of policemen were mobilized to contain further escalations.