21 Jun 2019 14:20

Ex- Georgian President Saakashvili again calls on supporters to take to streets in Georgia to change govt

TBILISI. June 21 (Interfax) - Former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now a citizen of Ukraine, called on his supporters on Friday to gather again on Rustaveli Avenue to end the rule of businessman and leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili.

"All questions need to be put aside now, and everyone who loves Georgia, including all my supporters, should go out to remove the Ivanishvili regime," Saakashvili said in a video circulated online.

"It is unacceptable that a medieval feudalist should govern a country aspiring to be part of Europe," he said.

Ivanishvili is pursuing a pro-Russian policy, which has plunged Georgia, once a country seeing the most rapid reforms in the world, back into poverty and misery, Saakashvili said. "This man has destroyed Georgia's economy, and millions of Georgians have fled the country [...] and yesterday he totally mocked us and treaded us into the ground," Saakashvili said.

"This man must get out and return everything he has stolen from the Georgian people, which is billions of lari, over the past several years," he said.

"Georgia is now above all and our future, and we are very close to ousting Ivanishvili," he said.

Amid unrest that began in Tbilisi on Thursday, prompted by the arrival of a delegation of Russian parliamentarians to take part in a session of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, Saakashvili urged Georgian police not to obey the incumbent administration's orders.

It had been reported earlier that protesters attempted to storm the parliament building but were repelled by security forces, which used acoustic guns, tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets to clear Rustaveli Avenue of demonstrators.

According to the Georgian Health Ministry, 240 people, including 80 police members, were injured in the clashes.

Opposition leaders urged their supporters to gather for a protest demonstration in front of the parliament building on Friday evening.