June 21, 2019 - 11:16 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Georgian police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters demanding snap parliamentary polls after a Russian lawmaker addressed the assembly from the speaker's seat, causing uproar in Tbilisi, AFP reports.
About 10,000 protesters had gathered outside parliament after a controversial address by Russian MP Sergei Gavrilov, with some breaking through riot police cordons to enter the parliament courtyard.
They were pushed back by police and the protest continued peacefully until midnight, when riot police started firing rubber bullets and tear gas.
Some 3,000 demonstrators briefly dispersed but later resumed the protest.
An advisor to Georgia's Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, said that 39 police officers and 30 protesters were hospitalised. Ambulances evacuated dozens of injured demonstrators, an AFP reporter witnessed.
"Protesters demand snap parliamentary polls and the resignation of parliament speaker and the Interior Minister," one of the leaders of the opposition European Georgia party, Gigi Ugulava, told AFP.
"We will achieve these demands through peaceful protests," he added.
Demonstrations broke out Thursday afternoon in front of Georgia's parliament, over Gavrilov's address to an annual meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) -- a forum of lawmakers from predominantly Orthodox countries.
The Russian MP's presence in fiercely pro-Western Georgia's parliament prompted outrage in the ex-Soviet nation which in 2008 fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.