11 Jun 2018 18:24

Tbilisi protest organizer, three participants sentenced to 14-day administrative arrest each

TBILISI. June 11 (Interfax) - A court in Tbilisi on Monday imposed 14 days of administrative arrest on Zviad Kuprava, one of the organizers of the current protests in the city's Rustaveli Avenue, and three other protestors, the Georgian media reported.

The arrested activists walked out of the courtroom in sign of protest, the reports said.

The four were held by police in front of the parliament building this morning. They were charged with unruly behavior and disobeying police orders, the Interior Ministry said.

It emerged on Monday that Kuprava and three protestors were held after trying to prevent police from removing the tents set up by protestors on the avenue.

Meanwhile, some Georgian media outlets reported earlier Kuprava's links to Georgian ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.

Pictures of the pair have been circulated on social media. Last week Kuprava spent two days in Kyiv where, according to his statement to the press, he met with former high-ranking officials from Saakashvili's government.

The current authorities claims that the protests, which started in Tbilisi in early June, are run directly by Saakashvili who is seeking revenge and thus trying to destabilize the situation in Georgia.

Last December, a massive brawl in Tbilisi led to the killing of two teenagers. Using the investigators' material, the Tbilisi state court failed to identify the killer of the 16-year-old David Saralidze, prompting mass protests which led to the resignation of Chief Prosecutor Irakli Shotadze. Under the pressure of citizen protests the parliament set up a provisional inquiry commission. Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili met with Saralidze and promised him maximum assistance with identifying his son's killer.

Initially rallies in support of Saralidze's demands were held by representatives from various civic and student organizations and were joined by ordinary citizens. Later, however, when a number of opposition parties led by the UNM decided to join the protests and their politicians turned up at a rally, members of civic movements decided to withdraw from it.