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Georgian authorities prevent escalation of situation - Tbilisi mayor

May 14, 2018, 2:18 UTC+3 TBILISI

The protests in downtown Tbilisi that went on since Sunday evening are now over

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TBILISI, May 14. /TASS/. The Georgian authorities did their utmost to prevent the escalation of the situation in its capital, Mayor of Tbilisi Kakha Kaladze told the IMEDI TV network on Monday.

"The most important thing for all of us is to preserve stability in the country, take care of residents’ lives and health," Kaladze said commenting on the successful completion of negotiations between Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia and leader of the White Noise movement Beka Tsikarishvili. The mayor described the efforts made by the Interior Ministry and the country’s authorities to reduce tensions as effective.

The protests in downtown Tbilisi that went on since Sunday evening are now over. Earlier in the day, the Georgian interior minister, together with Tsikarishvili, spoke at a rally outside the parliament building. The minister suggested "finishing this evening peacefully," adding that the authorities are "ready to reform the country’s drug policy."

Later on, Gakharia met with the leaders of another protest rally asking them to stop it and resolve all issues in the course of regular work. The organizers heeded his appeal.

On Sunday evening, Georgia’s Prime Minister Georgi Kvirikashvili called on the protesters to stay calm and refrain from violence. He noted that "any confrontation in the country and split in society are inadmissible for the Georgian authorities and people."

According to the Georgian prime minister, the country’s authorities see it as their task to prevent "hatred among people over different views."

Two big rallies were held in central Tbilisi on Sunday. One of them was organized by the White Noise public movement. Protesters blamed police for acting in excess of their mandate during a Saturday night anti-drug operation in two popular night clubs in Tbilisi and demanded resignation of Interior Minister Georgi Gakharia and Prime Minister Georgi Kvirikashvili. According to police, some 1,500 people took part in the rally.

Meanwhile, participants in the other rally say they don’t agree with the actions of White Noise activists as they are against propaganda of drugs. The rally brought together about 1,000 activists.

Police earlier said eight people had been detained on drug-dealing charges during the May 12 operation.

The rally against police actions at night clubs began in Tbilisi on Saturday. According to various sources, from 2,000 to 4,000 people took part in it. The rally resumed on Sunday evening.

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