Protest rallies stop in Tbilisi, government promises talks for more effective drug policy

Mon 14 May 2018 01:06 GMT | 05:06 Local Time

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Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia has one week to fulfil his promise given to White Noise Movement activists today.

Under the order of the minister police escorts the protesters in order to ensure they are safely transported by special busses outside Rustaveli Avenue. 
The other confronting group of protesters across the street also decided to stop the rally. 

A peaceful resolution of possible confrontation between the two groups came after a more than one hour meeting between the Minister of Internal Affairs accompanied by Tbilisi Mayor and the White Noise Movement leaders inside the Parliament building. The movement and its supporters have started the rally in front of the Parliament after police raid of Tbilisi night clubs Bassiani and Cafe Gallery on May 12 resulting in the arrest of eight drug traffickers. Protesters have been also criticising the government for ineffective drug policy.

On the other hand, the counter protesters headed by Georgian National Unity, the ultra-nationalist movement have had the opposite position and were demanding the pro-liberalisation rally to stop. The members of this group were trying to cross the police cordon and reach other remonstrants at Rustaveli Avenue all day long.  

By the late evening on May 13 it became harder for police to protect peaceful protesters in front of the Parliament building. 

PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili said he was taking responsibility to ensure freedom of expression and safety of protesters at Rustaveli Avenue calling on police to prevent any possible confrontation between the confronted groups.

After the meeting with the pro-legalisation movement leaders the Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia promised the protesters that the government would work for improving the drug policy.

"In order to achieve our goal which means finding a solution for quite complicated tasks we need to start constructive talks,” Gakharia said to the people gathered in front of the parliament building after the meeting. 

He  promised he would start talking with their representatives and invited them at a meeting on May 14, 10 am to discuss the police raid details and possible violations of citizens’ rights. 

"I also promise that we will achieve real results in terms of drug policy and if we do not fulfil our promise the possibility to dance or listen to music in free city in front of the free parliament will be always there,” he added.

Giorgi Gakharia also apologised to the protesters if anyone's safety was at risk by police and also asked them to do the same if they happened to insult any of the police worker.

One of the leader of the White Noise Movement Beka Tsikarishvili said they would observe how fair the minister will fulfill the promises and announced a  larger rally on Saturday to summarise results.

„We take a one week term in order to see how the process will go further, how constructive and real the promises will be,” he said adding the the Saturday rally would be crucial.

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