MOSCOW, June 21. /TASS/. The protests that broke out in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Thursday are a Russophobic provocation that causes concern to Moscow, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"What happened in Georgia yesterday is nothing but a Russophobic provocation. It certainly cannot but cause us concern as it reflected aggressiveness towards Russian nationals," he said.
Peskov added that "this is about their personal safety, the incident must be strongly condemned particularly because it took place during an international inter-parliamentary event."
"Such manifestations of Russophobia cause us serious concern. Let’s not forget that Georgia is a country that quite a large number of Russian tourists visit. So this is a serious issue," the Kremlin spokesman emphasized.
On June 20, several thousand protesters converged on the parliament in downtown Tbilisi, demanding the resignation of the interior minister and the parliament’s speaker, and tried to storm the building. In response, police used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators. According to Georgian media, dozens were detained. The country’s Health Ministry said that 52 people, including 38 police officers, suffered injuries.
The protests were sparked by an uproar over a Russian State Duma delegation’s participation in the 26th session of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO). On Thursday morning, IAO President Gavrilov opened the session in the Georgian parliament building. Opposition lawmakers were outraged by the fact that Gavrilov addressed the event’s participants from the parliament speaker’s seat. In protest, they did not allow the IAO session to continue.
Later, a decision was taken to wrap up the session and for the Russian delegation to leave the country. Members of the ruling ‘Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia’ party said that they did not know that Gavrilov had been scheduled to open the event, claiming that the protocol office had made a mistake.