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Georgian protesters demand PM’s resignation

Protesters are pledging to stay camped outside the Parliament building until their demands are met

Following the deaths of two teens in a brawl, protesters have taken to the streets of Tblisi to demand that the Prime Minister, Georgy Kvirikashvili, and chief prosecutor, Irakly Shotadze leave office.

The protests are led by the father of one of the deceased teens who is pledging to stay camped outside the Parliament building until his demands are met, which includes the resignation of the Prime Minister and his cabinet.

TASS reports:

TBILISI, June 1. /TASS/. Thousands of protestors, who gathered in Tbilisi on Thursday, said they would continue their rally until all their demands, including the government’s resignation, are met, and will make a tent camp outside the Georgian parliament if necessary.

The protests are broadcast live by all central TV channels in the country.

The rally, sparked by the killing of two teenagers in Tbilisi on December, 2017, began on Thursday afternoon in front of the Georgian Prosecutor General’s office.

The event was organized by Zaza Saralidze, the father of one of the victims. The crowd was angered by the way the prosecutors handled the investigation into the murder case and accused law-enforcers of covering up for the culprits. Protesters demanded resignation of the country’s chief prosecutor Irakly Shotadze.

Shotadze tendered his resignation in the wake of the protest, but the move failed to appease the protesters. More and more people joined the angry crowd throughout the day.

Later on Thursday, protesters marched to the Georgian parliament building and demanded the whole cabinet, including Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili, to resign.

The premier briefly appeared before the crowd, and tried to make an address.

He called to “bring the events back within the boundaries of the law” and vowed that the investigation into the murder will resume.

However, his speech was disrupted by the crowd, who started whistling and chanting “leave!”

Saralidze addressed the crowd after the premier, saying that “the demands will not change and the protesters will demand the government’s resignation to the bitter end.”

While Shotadze tendered his resignation in accomodation of the proterster’s demands, Kvirikashvili, on the other hands is, at this time, refusing to step down on the basis that it would not benefit the country.

TBILISI, June 1. /TASS/. Georgian Prime Minister Georgy Kvirikashvili told a special briefing on Thursday night he was not planning to resign to appease the protests currently under way in the capital Tbilisi.

“As soon as I am sure that my resignation benefits the country, that it can slightly improve the situation or defuse tensions, I will not hesitate even for a second about making this step. However, this is not today’s situation,” he said.

The rally was sparked by the killing of two teenagers in Tbilisi on December 1, 2017. Protesters accused the country’s law enforcement bodies of failing to properly investigate the tragedy. At first, protesters sought the resignation of the country’s chief prosecutor Irakly Shotadze. However, after the demand was met, the crowd demanded the resignation of the whole cabinet, including Kvirikashvili.

“Tomorrow [on Friday] the case will be returned for investigation to Georgia’s interior ministry. Vice premier and Interior Minister Georgy Gakharia will oversee the process. He will head it, and, of course, I will follow every step and will control the entire process,” Kvirikashvili said.

“During the investigation, to be conducted by the Interior Ministry, the parents of the slain teenagers can receive updates about it on a daily basis,” he added.

The rally, which began on Thursday afternoon in front of the Georgian Prosecutor General’s office, was organized by Zaza Saralidze, the father of one of the victims. Earlier in the day, the Tbilisi city court acquitted all suspects. The decision came as a shock to relatives of the victims, who were angered by the way the prosecutors handled the investigation into the murder case and accused law-enforcers of covering up for the culprits.

Currently, a crowd of several thousand still remains in front of the country’s parliament. They say they would stay their until their demands are met, and will make a tent camp there if necessary.

In April, when protesters gathered in the streets of Yerevan to protest their government’s leadership, the blocked the streets and other infrastructure, with the country’s capital remaining in such condition for several weeks until the Prime Minister, Serzh Sargsyan, stepped down from his post. The leader of the protests, Nikol Pashinyan, later assumed the role of Prime Minister, and has since gone about restaffing the upper levels of the Armenian government.

 

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