Thousands of people in Georgia have hit the streets for a third day to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as their own government’s lack of action.
On Saturday, demonstrations took place in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi.
The demonstration in the capital, organised by the opposition and non-governmental groups, was followed by a concert ‘Voice from Georgia’, in which well-known Georgian musicians including Nino Katamadze and Nikoloz Rachveli performed.
The Georgian Government has faced criticism both at home and in Ukraine for not taking a stronger stance against Russia.
In a thinly veiled barb aimed at the Georgian Government on Saturday morning, Ukrainian Preisdent Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Georgians for coming out to the streets, adding that ‘there are times when citizens are not the Government, but better the Government’.
Incredible Georgian people who understand that friends must be supported! 🇬🇪🇺🇦 Grateful to everyone in Tbilisi and other cities who came out in support of Ukraine and against the war. Indeed, there are times when citizens are not the Government, but better the Government.
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) February 25, 2022
On Thursday Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili told reporters that he would not introduce sanctions against Russia, justifying the decision by the country’s ‘national interests’, while the central bank announced aid to the Georgian branch of sanction-hit VTB bank.
On Saturday, the Government changed their tone somewhat, announcing they had allocated ₾1 million ($315,000) to purchase medical supplies for people affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Shame Movement claimed this was a direct result of the protests.
President Zurabishvili, who has been more vocal than members of the ruling Georgian Dream Party in her condemnation of Russia’s invasion, spoke with President Zelensky on Saturday.
Talked with President @ZelenskyyUa and reiterated Georgia’s full solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
In these tragic times for Ukraine and for all of Europe, President Zelenskyy is an exemplary leader.
All of Georgia 🇬🇪 #StandsWithUkraine 🇺🇦
— Salome Zourabichvili (@Zourabichvili_S) February 26, 2022
According to the Ukrianian President, ‘concrete assistance was discussed’.
Also on Saturday, Georgian hackers claimed responsibility for taking down the websites of the Chechen Government, Russian Ministry of Economy, Russian state-owned VTB bank, and Georgian far-right group Alt-info — a group that frequently expresses pro-Russian talking points.