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Georgian’s Come Out to be Heard

Over ten thousand people came out to central Tbilisi on November 15 to protest annexation of occupied Abkhazia and continuing Russian aggression. 

Late last month Russia proposed an agreement with Abkhazia leading to “alliance and integration” and soon after the leading opposition party United National Movement (UNM) announced their intentions to hold a rally.  In the weeks leading up to the rally UNM expanded the mandate to include protest against the Georgian government’s “inaction” amid threat of “annexation” of the occupied territories.

While the protest itself lasted only about two hours it brought in people from regional town centers and included young and old alike.  The protesters gathered in Rose Revolution Square and carried on down Rustaveli Avenue behind a large banner reading “Stop Russia”, to the Parliament building where the addresses were to take place.  While most of the protesters carried Georgian flags, there were also a mix of Ukrainian and EU flags, signs saying “No to Annexation” and “Stop Putin”, while a huge NATO flag was displayed in the middle of the protesters where they gathered to listen to speeches.  At the same time a smaller rally was taking place in Kyiv, Ukraine.  It was from there that former President Mikheil Saakashvili addressed the crowd via video link appearing on three large screens.

Some people claim that the desire for EU and NATO integration is waning in Georgia, but I disagree.  Was there disappointment after the Wales Summit?  Sure.  But in the end most Georgian’s agree on looking towards the west and under no circumstances should Russia take over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Posted by

Andrea Keerbs

Resident Country Director, Georgia