A large-scale rally was held in Tbilisi demanding the release of Mikheil Saakashvili
Thousands gathered in the centre of the capital on October 14 to demand the release of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was detained a day before the October 1 local elections.
Protesters gathered at the First Republic Square and marched through Rustaveli Avenue to Freedom Square. Citizens from different regions of the country joined the protest. They set off in convoys of cars towards the capital. On their way, in several places, including Abasha Municipality and the city of Rustavi, counter-demonstrators, some of them allegedly local government officials, greeted with brooms and insulted those coming to Tbilisi.
At the beginning of the rally, the director of the Main Channel, Nika Gvaramia, who is also Saakashvili’s lawyer, read a letter sent by Mikheil Saakashvili from Rustavi prison to those gathered at Freedom Square. “My first wish and main wish is for Georgians to have a state, distinguished by freedom and prosperity, justice and security, the ancient Europeans should have a European country,” Saakashvili said.
The protest ended with the speech of the chairman of the “National Movement” – Nika Melia. He Underlined Saakashvili’s “Dedication” and “Sacrifice” and noted that his steps “impaired the regime”, Later, Melia declared the rally over and called on the people to prepare for the second rounds, which will be held on October 30.
There were different assessments of the number of protesters in the international media. According to Al-jazeera, 50,000 protesters attended the rally, France 24 – 50 000, Agency France Press – 60 000.
The rally was not joined by other opposition parties and was organized only by the United National Movement.
US Secretary of Defense will visit Georgia next week
On October 12 Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin would visit Georgia next week. The Secretary of Defense and his team will also visit Ukraine and Romania as part of a European tour. “His important visit to Brussels with allies and partners will end at the NATO Defense Ministerial,” Kirby added.
The exact dates of the visit to Georgia are still unknown. The NATO Ministerial will be held in Brussels on October 21-22. The Georgian Defense Ministry said on October 13 that the Secretary of Defense’s visit “reaffirms the strength of the US-Georgia strategic partnership and the high level of cooperation to strengthen a common values-based partnership.”
The residential building in Batumi completely collapsed, 9 people died
On October 8, unauthorized works in the basement of the building on May 26 Street in Batumi resulted in the demolition of the retaining wall and the collapse of one of the entrances of the building. 10 people were in the ruins, 7 of whom, including three kids, had already died before they were pulled from the rubble. Two more people died after being taken to hospital. The only survivor continues treatment at this time
Parliament Speaker Kakha Kuchava said that “there will be legislative changes in terms of tightening construction supervision.”
Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said that “the money allocated for Tbilisoba will be transferred to the families of the victims in Batumi.”
The Ministry of Internal Affairs has detained 3 persons as part of the ongoing investigation into the demolition of a residential building