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Four protests in a night – Tbilisi takes to the streets

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Four protests took place in Tbilisi on 8 July: an LGBT pride march, an anti-occupation rally, an ultranationalist demonstration and a protest in front of TV company Rustavi 2 for an obscene statement by the channel’s anchor Giorgi Gabunia who cursed Russian President Vladimir Putin live on air.

More below in detail.

Anti-occupation protest, ultranationalist demonstration

Two of them took place simultaneously on Rustaveli Avenue in downtown Tbilisi, and were separated by a cordon of police officers and buses.

One of them was against the Russian occupation. Demonstrators have already been on the street for twenty days. Initially, the protests broke out because of the address of Russian MP Sergei Gavrilov from the seat of the parliamentary speaker to the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy.

Later that night, police brutally dispersed a protest rally. Demonstrators returned with the demand that Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia resign. Organizers of the rally are largely non-party aligned youth.

Opposition politicians are also participating in the rally, but the agenda is determined by the youth themselves.

Another protest was held because LGBT activists announced on July 8 that they would finally hold a long-awaited ‘March of Dignity’ in front of the Ministry of the Interior.

The march had been scheduled to be held earlier, but given the outburst of the rallies was postponed.

Participants of the rally intended to prevent the LGBT march from taking place.

Their main demand was the annulment of an anti-discrimination law, adopted five years ago, which prohibits discrimination and harassment of people on any basis. [ed. the law, which was passed by parliament on the recommendation of the European Union in 2014, provides for administrative and criminal penalties in cases of discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnic origin, religious or sexual orientation].

Rally participants gathered in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and after it became known that the pride would not take place, they went to the parliament building.

Businessman Levan Vasadze was the leader of the contraction. He came to yesterday’s rally with a wooden cross in his hands. Vasadze made his fortune in Russia and is known for his anti-Western, pro-Russian rhetoric. One of Vasadze’s initiatives was the creation of “people’s patrols” to prevent LGBT events from taking place in preceding weeks.

Ultranationalist Georgian March members also participated in the rally.

Georgian March has come out against immigration to Georgia from Muslim and eastern countries. Last year they organized demonstrations with these requirements. Last year, the Georgian March announced it would form ‘people’s patrols’ to “put an end to the lawlessness of foreigners” in Georgia.

Clergymen participated in yesterday’s contraction as well. At the rally, they prayed and sang church chants. In their prayers, they asked God to protect Georgia “from the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Levan Vasadze. Photo: on.ge

Counter protest. Photo: David Pipia / JAMnews

Counter protest. Photo: David Pipia / JAMnews

Counter protest. Photo: David Pipia / JAMnews

Counter protest. Photo: David Pipia / JAMnews

Yesterday, LGBT activists launched a drone with the rainbow flag above the rally of ultranationalists.

Participants of both demonstrations spent the night outside. In the morning, the counter protest broke up, and the participants of the anti-occupation rally again took their place in front of parliament.

The third rally was held outside the building of the Rustavi-2 TV channel.

The participants of this rally demanded a change in the leadership of the channel, the dismissal of journalist Giorgi Gabunia.

On Sunday evening, Giorgi Gabunia cursed Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russian on air during his programme, Post Scriptum.

The management of the television company apologized for the obscene language of the journalist, and he was suspended from work for two months.

The rally in front of Rustavi-2 lasted about two hours, after which the participants joined the counter protest of Levan Vasadze on Rustaveli Avenue.

The demonstration in front of the building of the Rustavi-2 television company. Photo: Salome Chikviladze, on.ge

Аhe demonstration in front of the building of the Rustavi-2 television company. Photo: Salome Chikviladze, on.ge

The demonstration in front of the building of the Rustavi-2 television company. Photo: Salome Chikviladze, on.ge

The fourth demonstration was the smallest and shortest. After the ultranationalists left the area in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the organizers of the Tbilisi Pride decided to hold a symbolic March of Dignity.

The first LGBT Pride in Georgia was held in front of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and lasted for about an hour, and several dozen people took part in it.

For security reasons, the organizers of the rally did not disclose information about the “march”, so many people were unable to attend. Even few journalists were properly informed.

“The march of dignity took place because we are not going to give up public places. These places are ours. Although we did not come out in as many numbers as planned, it was still important. We will be more and more from year to year”, said Giorgi Tabagari, organizer of the Tbilisi Pride, to RFE/RL.

March of Dignity in Tbilisi. Photo: Salome Chaduneli, on.ge

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Azerbaijan

SOCAR rep clarifies poisoning incident at Azerbaijans Sumgait plant

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Thirteen employees of Azerbaijan’s Ustay company appealed to the management in connection with dizziness and nausea, Ibrahim Ahmadov, deputy head of the Public Relations and Event Management Department of the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, told Trend on Nov. 16.

Ahmadov was commenting on the poisoning incident at the Sumgait plant.

Several media outlets spread the information about the mass poisoning at one of the Sumgait plants on Nov. 16. In accordance with the information, the poisoned people were SOCAR employees.

“The employees were sent to the Unikal clinic for a check-up,” the deputy's head said. "Ten of 13 people left the clinic to undergo treatment. Three people were transported to the toxicology department of the Clinical Medical Center."

Ahmadov stressed that the cause of their malaise is unknown.

"No gas leaks were detected in the company,” the deputy's head said. “Our employees from SOCAR, working in the adjacent territory, feel good. There are no problems."

So far, the cause of the incident is unclear.

News.Az

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Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani President congratulates Sultan of Oman

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The President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has sent a congratulatory letter to the Sultan of Oman His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said on the occasion of the National holiday of the Sultanate of Oman, APA reports citing Presidential press-service.

The letter reads:

"Your Majesty,

It is on the occasion of the National holiday of the Sultanate of Oman that on my personal behalf and on behalf of the people of Azerbaijan I offer my cordial congratulations to you and through you, the people of your country.

On this prominent day, I wish strong health and success in every endeavor to you and everlasting peace and prosperity to the friendly people of Oman."

News.Az

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Azerbaijan

Graham blocks resolution on the disputed Armenian issue

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Following a meeting with US President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the US senator stood up to tell his colleagues they should not sugarcoat or rewrite history, according to TRT World.

On October 29, as Turkey celebrated the 96th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic in Washington, the House of Representatives voted 405-11 in favor of the resolution to recognize the alleged killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire in 1915.

The resolution was not legally binding unless the Senate passes it.

On Wednesday 13 November, US Senator Lindsey Graham blocked the passage of the resolution which would officially recognize the so-called Armenian genocide. Graham's objection came hours after he took part in a White House meeting with US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan alongside a group of Republican senators.

Graham objected to passing the resolution in the Senate, saying senators shouldn't "sugarcoat history or try to rewrite it".

The House vote came in the wake of Ankara's operation in northern Syria to secure its borders from the YPG/PKK terrorist organisation in order to establish a safe zone for Syrian refugees who are currently in Turkey.

The YPG is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK, which is recognized as a terrorist organization in the EU, US and Turkey. The YPG/PKK is responsible for more than 40,000 deaths in Turkey.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who has faced corruption allegations in the past and been accused of “poor judgement” in accepting illegal campaign donations, has been one of the main people pushing for the Armenian resolution.

Graham, however, said that he was objecting to the resolution "not because of the past but because of the future" adding on the Senate floor that he hoped “Turkey and Armenia can come together and deal with this problem".

Erdogan has in the past repeatedly reiterated his call for historians to investigate the issue.

"If the US side really wants to act fairly, it should refrain from taking a political stand on a matter that historians should decide," Erdogan has said.

In recent times the main triggers of voting and blocking the Armenian resolutions have been related to politics and not humanitarian sensibilities.

The Turkish operation in Syria was this time the main impetus for this resolution there has also been a distinctly anti-Turkish shift amongst US politicians in the House and the Senate.

News.Az

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