Protesters in Georgia are demanding the resignation of the government, over their lack of support for Ukraine during the Russian invasion.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recalled his ambassador to Georgia for consultations, citing the Georgian Government’s ‘immoral position’ on sanctions and for blocking a charter flight scheduled to bring Georgian volunteer fighters to Ukraine.
[Read more on OC Media: Ukraine recalls ambassador to Georgia over ‘immoral position’ of Georgian Government]
Thousands gathered outside parliament on Tuesday for the sixth day of protests in support of Ukraine during the ongoing Russian invasion.
Addressing the crowd, Elene Khoshtaria, leader of the opposition Droa Party, outlined three demands — the resignation of the government, to close Georgia’s airspace for Russian planes and open it for Ukraine-bound volunteers, and for Georgia to apply for EU membership.
Others, such as Girchi — More Freedom leader Zurab Girchi Japaridze, called for snap elections.
In the Black Sea coastal city of Batumi, 10 people were arrested, including two city councilors from the opposition Lelo and United National Movement (UNM) parties, according to local media.
Police have not yet made a statement, but according to reporters and eyewitnesses, the arrests followed protesters cursing Russian President Vladimir Putin by shouting ‘Putin khuylo’ (‘Putin is a dickhead’) as well as Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili.
Tuesday protests came after a heated discussion between the ruling Georgian Dream majority and opposition MPs on the government’s steps — or lack thereof — to help Ukraine.
The protest outside Parliament restarted on Tuesday after a heated discussion between the ruling Georgian Dream majority and opposition MPs on the government’s steps — or lack thereof — to help Ukraine.
The government has remained defiant. Following the recall of Ukraine’s ambassador, government spokesperson Ilia Darchiashvili called Zelensky’s decision ‘incomprehensible’, but added that Georgia would still continue providing ‘political support and humanitarian aid to Ukraine within its capacity’.
Darchiashvili went further and accused the ‘destructive opposition’, including the United National Movement (UNM) party, ‘stationed both in Tbilisi and Kyiv’ of seeking to drag Georgia into the war.
Opposition groups have also accused the government of squandering an opportunity for Georgia to enhance its security and distance itself from Russia’s influence by applying for EU membership, together with Ukraine and Moldova.
On Monday, President Zelensky signed an official application to join the EU. The following day, the EU Parliament recommended granting the country candidate status.
Last year, Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova united to call for the EU to seriously cons
ider their membership perspectives, distancing themselves from Armenia and Azerbaijan, which are also part of the EU’s Eastern Partnership.
Following Ukraine’s application, Romania’s President, Klaus Iohannis, expressed his country’s ‘full support’ for the EU integration of ‘Ukraine as well as of the Republic of Moldova and Georgia’.
However, Georgian Dream chair Irakli Kobakhidze insisted that they had no plans to formally apply for the membership until 2024.
‘Even Ukraine's acceptance into the EU will take many years’, Kobakhidze argued.