Georgians Accuse Their Government of Ignoring Russia ActsHelena Bedwell
Tens of thousands of Georgians gathered for a protest today that accused Russia of attempting to annex breakaway regions and their own government of ignoring Russian actions in Georgia and Ukraine.
Crowds marched in the main streets of the capital, Tbilisi, carrying European Union, U.S. and Ukrainian flags and posters that mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili’s governing Georgian Dream coalition.
“The government tells us lies that they are improving relations with Russia, but in a reality Russia is annexing our territories and messing up the situation in Ukraine,” Giorgi Gabashvili, a former minister and a member of the United National Movement, which organized the rally, told the crowd. “We must raise our voices now and say down with the occupation.”
The Georgian Dream coalition was formed in 2011, with Ivanishvili’s government aiming to mend ties with Russia after the 2008 war between the nations that saw Moscow recognize the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Georgian government said in a statement late yesterday that Russia “continues to blatantly violate core principles of international law,” and it does “not turn a blind eye.”
Former president Mikheil Saakashvili, who addressed the crowd from Kiev by a video link, said that Georgia is likely to face a choice between loyalty to Russia or seeking integration with the EU.