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Georgian police arrest 15 pro-Ukraine activists for TPing government offices

8 March 2022
Protesters throw toilet paper at the government offices.. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

The 12th round of daily anti-government and pro-Ukraine protests in Georgia ended with arrests after activists threw toilet paper on the Government Chancellery building, which was heavily guarded by police. 

On Monday night, police arrested 15 activists participating in the ‘No to Russia!’ protest outside the government headquarters in downtown Tbilisi. The five women who were among the detainees were released later that evening.

Members of Shame, a liberal group critical of the Georgian government’s lack of support for Ukraine during the ongoing Russian invasion, claimed arrests started only after they wrapped up their protest. 

Several hours before the arrests started, protesters moved from central Rustaveli Avenue outside the Parliament building, where they unfurled a large Ukrainian flag  near the building.

A Ukrainian flag unfurled outside Parliament in central Tbilisi. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Protesters threw toilet papers and flour at several lines of police officers who were securing the building, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili. 

[Read the latest on the complicated Georgian-Ukrainian relations: Ukraine reproaches Georgia for seeking to renew dairy exports to Russia

Shame claims that several of their members were detained, including Giorgi Mzhavanadze, Giga Makarashvili, Nodar Rukhadze, and Zuka Berdzenishvili — the latter of whom was broadcasting the arrests as they took place on Facebook. 

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The activist group also claimed that the police confiscated their posters before a parallel demonstration in Batumi, a Black Sea coastal city in Georgia, started.

Earlier that day, police detained Elene Khoshtaria, chair of the opposition Droa party, alongside two fellow party members after they spilled ketchup and scattered rice, which they claimed were imported Russian products, in front of the government headquarters. Khoshtaria joined the evening protest after being released later that day. 

Monday marked the twelfth day of consecutive street demonstrations in Tbilisi against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and in condemnation of the government’s inaction towards the issue.

Beyond the recent calls for Gharibashvili’s resignation, their demands include the closure of Georgia’s airspace to Russia, Georgia joining other countries to sanction Russia, a ban on ‘Russian propaganda’ channels in the country, and introduction of a visa regime for Russian citizens.