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Georgian court awards lifelong payments to person injured in ‘Gavrilov’s Night’ protests

20 June 2023
Tear gas being deployed against protesters on 20 June 2019. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Tbilisi City Court has ordered the Ministry of Internal Affairs to pay one of those injured during the 20–21 June 2019 Gavrilov’s night protests damages for life.

According to the Tbilisi-based rights group the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA), who represented the unnamed victim, the court awarded them ₾30,000 ($12,000) in moral damages and ₾1,155 ($440) monthly for life, due to a reduction in their working capacity.

‘[The victim] tried to help a participant surrounded by tear gas while the rally was being dispersed, at which point they were hit by a rubber bullet in the eye area’, GYLA wrote, adding that the victim underwent several surgeries due to a loss of vision.

According to GYLA, the court only partially satisfied the victim’s complaint. 

Protesters had gathered outside Parliament in the evening of 20 June after Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov addressed the Georgian Parliament from the speakers tribune, at the invitation of then–speaker Irakli Kobakhidze.

After protesters attempted to enter parliament, police attempted to disperse them using tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets. 

[Read on OC Media: Russian MP’s appearance in Georgian Parliament sparks protests across Georgia]

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Police deployed tear gas, rubber bullets and a water cannon to drive protesters away from the Tbilisi Parliament building on 21 June.

At least two people lost eyes as police indiscriminately opened fire into the crowd with rubber bullets.

These included 20-year-old student Mako Gomuri, and Giorgi Sulashvili, an employee of TV station Rustavi 2.

Mako Gomuri and Giorgi Sulashvili. Photo: Gogita Ivanishvili/Facebook.

[Read more on OC Media: Voice | ‘What I hate the most is the injustice of it’]

The violence on 20–21 June 2019 left 275 people injured, including 73 police officers.

Irakli Kobakhidze was forced to resign as speaker of parliament over the invitation to Gavrilov, only to return to frontline politics less than two years later as chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party.

A protester on his knees in front of the parliament as riot police disperse the protest. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

In their statement on Tuesday, GYLA hailed the Tbilisi City Court ruling as setting a legal precedent.

‘The decision made by the court in this case is important from the point of view that, on the one hand, the fact of the use of illegal and disproportionate force by the state against the plaintiff was established’, they wrote.

‘In addition, in Georgian judicial practice, there are not many cases of compensation for moral damages of this volume.’

The group added that they were helping around 15 others to sue the Interior Ministry for damages over the events of that night, including journalists, passers-by, and participants of the demonstration.

They also said they had taken the cases of 22 people to the European Court of Human Rights, consideration of which began in June 2021.