2019.06.21 12:20

Lithuania's Linkevičius calls on Georgians to avoid violence after clashes outside parliament

Saulius Jakučionis, BNS2019.06.21 12:20

Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius has called on the Georgians to avoid violence after clashes outside the parliament in Tbilisi.

The protests were sparked by Russian MP Sergey Gavrilov's address to an annual meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, with dozens of people, including activists and officers, injured.

“We can understand the resentment but we would like to call on both the government and the protesters to comply with the laws and the Constitution and to avoid violence,” the Lithuanian foreign minister told BNS, adding that the ministry is closely watching the situation in Georgia and is in contact with the local embassy.

“As far as we understand, there have been calls to continue with protests, therefore, we invite people to observe the laws,” Linkevičius said.

Some 10,000 protesters gathered outside Georgia's parliament on Thursday afternoon when they heard Gavrilov's speech. Clashes started during the night when riot police started firing rubber bullets and tear gas and used acoustic and water cannons.

The Russian MP's presence in the parliament of fiercely pro-Western Georgia prompted outrage in the country which fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008.

Following the overnight violence, the opposition has called for a new peaceful rally on Friday.