A woman raises her flag and blows a whistle at Georgia's Parliament building. She wears an eye patch to protest the dispersal of a previous demonstration. A protester stands at the entrance to Ivanishvili’s residence and business center blowing a whistle. Her patch not only represents the 20 percent of Georgian territory considered occupied by Russia; it also marks the date (June 20) of the police dispersal.
Analysts believe the protests are about more than just about Gavrilov’s appearance in the Georgian Parliament. They also represent disillusionment with the ruling Georgian Dream party and the societal divide between a younger generation looking to the West and Georgia's older, more conservative and traditional institutions.
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Analysts believe the protests are about more than just about a Russian legislator's appearance in the Georgian Parliament. They also represent disillusionment with the ruling Georgian Dream party and the societal divide between a younger generation looking to the West and Georgia's older, more conservative and traditional institutions.
Protesters in Tbilisi have entered their fourth week of demonstrations in response to an official visit by Russian legislator Sergei Gavrilov to the country on June 20. During an inter-parliamentary meeting on Orthodoxy, Gavrilov angered many Georgians when he addressed the Georgian Parliament in Russian from the parliamentary speaker’s chair.
Georgia severed diplomatic relations with Russia in 2008 following the Russian-Georgian War and Moscow’s recognition of two breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as independent states. Russia supports and has a military presence in both former territories, which explains why most Georgians still consider Moscow to be an occupying force.
In response to the protests over Gavrilov’s visit, which the ruling Georgian Dream party later described as a "protocol error," Russia announced on July 8 that it would suspend all direct flights to Georgia, advising Russian tourists not to visit the country. The move is predicted to cause huge economic losses for Georgia.
Nevertheless, protesters representing the "For Freedom" movement continue their daily demonstrations outside the Parliament building on Tbilisi’s central Rustaveli Avenue, maintaining that they will not stop until the government addressed all three of their demands. At the time of writing, only one of those demands has been met.