The 9th of April Protest


by Vusala Alibayli, Salome Kasradze, Khanim Javadova

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Photo taken by Khanim Javadova, student of GIPA

TBILISI, Georgia – The 42th day of protest in Tbilisi was uptight, in spite of the fact that not more than 2000 people were attending the demonstration on the bank of the river Mtkvari. Leaders of opposition parties gathered in the Rose Square and after half an hour Zviad Dzidziguri, member of Conservative Party announced the direction of demonstration.

“I am asking you to stay calm and be organized. Now we will move by the Rustaveli Avenue, then go down to the Elbakidze Street and then block the both sides of Mtkvari,” he said.

Protest reached the culmination in the Elbakidze Street when one of the drivers decided to break-through the people. He was against the protest. However, there were drivers who supported the protest. As 40-year-old driver Georgi Bagrationi,

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Photo taken by Khanim Javadova, student of GIPA

“I agree, I agree with all what is happening there,” he said.

Kakha Shartava, leader of ‘National Forum’ advised Protestants to stay calm.

“When Government’s violence has no limit, when they kill innocent people, torture prisoners, encroach personal proper ty- of course, we are not insured against such provocations. We should stay calm and everyone should join the protest. And no place will be left for such provocateurs,” he said.

After Elbakidze Street, demonstrators moved near the Ministry of Internal Affairs. They responded to the police operation against the military service officers, when they arrested  2 people and killed one person suspected in the motherlands betray. Opposition leaders spoke in the protest that this action was completely unfair.

Photo taken by Khanim Javadova

Photo taken by Khanim Javadova

Salome Zurabishvili, leader of ‘Georgian way’ party called for ministry of Internal Affairs Vasil Sikharulidze to join them, but there was no comment from him.

“We will continue as long as it will be necessary so people of Georgia can make their free choice about  what in future they want. They want this government which destroying or new construction. There will be very big rally on 26th of May. This will be culmination of the previous protests but not the end,” said Zurabishvili.

After 40 minutes, protest near the ministry of internal Affairs was over. It continued in 6 a.m. in front of the Parliament.

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Zakaryan has been living on the streets for 15 years

Among the thousands of protesters in front of parliament on Saturday, April 11, is Rauf Zakaryan, 45, a homeless man. Although he has no idea about what’s going on there.

“I asked people what they are doing here. No one gave me answer. I thought these meetings are for elections,” says Zakaryan, who has been living on the streets  for 15 years.

Zakaryan speaks in Azerbaijanian and Armenian. While talking he stopped, listened to know what opposition leaders speaking about. But he didn’t understand because all speeches are in Georgian language.

It is a month that former taxi driver Zakaryan has lived in Tbilisi, sleeping everywhere, for example, 50 meter far from Opera and around the Academy of Science of Georgia at night. According to him, any place where can be a shelter he lives there. He has only a big, black bag, black and dirty hat. He keeps his reserve shoes, some clothes there.

He lived in Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia before, but moved because of the lack of money and to find somewhere to live.

Zakaryan decided to live in Georgia because he heard it was a more law-abiding country. He thinks Georgia is a fairer place to live and is puzzled by the calls for Saakashvili’s resignation.

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"I know only that no one can make Saakashvili resign if he didn’t commit a crime"

It was on Saturday when I met him and started talking. There were fewer people than the first two days of the protests. When we talked, there were about 5,000 protesters in front of the parliament.

Zakaryan stared at people, seeming like he was counting them. Then he asked me “How much is the population of Georgia?” I replied “It is about 5 million.”

Zakaryan thought about that for a minute, then replied: “This is unbelievable. Now there are only maximum 5,000-10,000 people here. Let it be even whole population of Tbilisi. How can they to make difference in government instead of the remaining three or four million?”

“There have to be elections, there is no other way to get rid of the president,” said Zakaryan, before going off to look for a new place to sleep for the night.

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People held flowers in their hand till the first protest day finished on 9th of April. The flowers meant People want peace.

Preparation for the protest began at 12 am.

Preparation for the protest began at 12 am.

The 9th April Youth Movement planned to assembly in front of the Rustaveli metro station.

The 9th April Youth Movement planned to assembly in front of the Rustaveli metro station.

They were distributing T-shirts “Change” written on them.

They were distributing T-shirts “Change” written on them.

Youth waited all main opposition parties to pass towards parliament after it they joined to the young people’s mass which called themselves - United Students for Georgia.

Youth waited all main opposition parties to pass towards parliament after it they joined to the young people’s mass which called themselves - United Students for Georgia.

They were from three universities – Tbilisi State University, Chavchavadze State University and Technical State University.

They were from three universities – Tbilisi State University, Chavchavadze State University and Technical State University.

Youth were screaming various slogans like “Go, go, Misha, go, go, Misha!”, “Be afraid, Saakashvili, students are coming!!!”

Youth were screaming various slogans like “Go, go, Misha, go, go, Misha!”, “Be afraid, Saakashvili, students are coming!!!”

Students made a human chain which covered all Rustaveli avenue.

Students made a human chain which covered all Rustaveli avenue.

Other side of this toy is with Putin's - prime minister of Russia - photo

Other side of this toy is with Putin's - prime minister of Russia - photo

Protesters are in front of the Parliament about 3 pm.

Protesters are in front of the Parliament about 3 pm

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Protesters are greeting the leaders from opposition

Protesters are greeting the leaders from opposition

The main point which unit both people and opposition is resignation of the presedent Saakashvili

The main point which unit both people and opposition is resignation of the presedent Saakashvili

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The 20th anniversary of the Day of the National Unity in front of the Parliament

TBILISI, Georgia – The day of a big opposition rally started with a small, early  morning vigil in front of Parliament.

About 60 people were gathered in front of parliament around 5 am to leave flowers and burn candles to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Day of National Unity, when 20 people were killed and scores injured when Soviet troops fired upon protesters demonstrating against the Soviet Union.

People gathered there were drinking wine and giving toasts in memory of those killed on April 9, 1989.

“I’ve come here every year, for 20 years,” said Andro Gogoladze, 42, an archaeologist.

The monument of the April 9 tragedy was covered with red tulips and carnations, white lilies and burning candles. Three sellers took the opportunity to sell candles, flowers, cigarettes and snacks.

All of the early risers planned to return to parliament at 2 p.m., though not all are planning to support the opposition groups. Gogoladze, for example, is an opposition supporter. But pensioner Natella Turmanishvili said that she will come to the protest to heckle opposition supporters.

“I will whistle and say “Go away!”to the leaders of opposition parties – like Nino Burchanadze and Irakli Alasania. Because They don’t care about us,” she said.

Teimuraz Shashiashvili, former Tbilisi mayor, said “if there is a political microphone, I won’t have a speech. Because I don’t support either Alasania’s party, nor Burchanadze’s. When they had jobs they supported Saakashvili, after they were fired they became the opposition.”

But he doesn’t like Saakashvili either.

“Saakashvili had to resign his post because he couldn’t manage things well,” he said. “His being president has been bad for the Caucasus.”

In preparation for the day’s demonstrations, an iron stage and 1 meter high wood fence were constructed in front of the Parliament building.

Vakhtang Khmaladze, member of the opposition Republican Party, said he wasn’t bothered by the fences, and thought maybe they were there to prevent a repeat of 1989, when protesters stormed parliament, causing troops to shoot at the crowds. He is sure today’s demonstrators will be peaceful and weapon-free.

“If government use weapons against simple people it will be the government’s fault, and it will be held against them,” he said.

Later at 11 a.m, high up government officials and opposition members joined Catholicos-Patriarch of all Georgia Ilia II who visited the memorial of April 9 in front of Parliament building, according to Imedi TV news. He held a prayer to commemorate the names of people who died during the April 9, 1989 protests. President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili attended the prayer together with the head of Parliament David Bakradze and the Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava.

Members of oppositional parties Levan Gachechiladze and Nino Burjanadze were also present. After the prayer, they went to different places from where oppositional leaders are going to march towards Rustaveli Avenue.

By Vusala Alibayli and Khanim Javadova

About 60 people came to the anniversary

About 60 people came to the anniversary

People gathered there left tuilps and burned candles in front of the tragedy monument

People gathered there left tuilps and burned candles in front of the tragedy monument

Not all of the protesters are support the opposition parties

Not all of the protesters are support the opposition parties

TBILISI, Georgia – As soon as door is opened you see the fuss among the young inside of the rooms. There are about 30-40 young people, ages 18-28,  some of them is with markers and papers, some drawing posters, some watching TV and reporting back to the group.

The 9th of April Youth Movement is preparing for the 9th of April protest.

The movement of 9th April specially prepared t-shirts for the protest. The word “Change” is written on the t-shirts. All members of the movement will be wearing these shirts on the 9th of April. They are also preparing posters with various slogans, for example, “Change your future, change Georgia, and change all!”

“We support idea of this protest to change everything towards better, to make peace, to improve level of an education etc. We aren’t related to a particular political party,” says Kostantin Mukhabze, activist of the 9th of April Youth Movement.

The movement leaders estimate that there will be about 600-700 of their members.

According to Mukhabze the goal of the movement will be control of the situation to avoid incidents on the day of the protest. Members of this organization think so, because the government will try to send its people to make fight among participants.

The young gave the name “facade democracy” to Saarkashvili’s political views. They think that there are no human rights; no freedom of speech in their country.

“Our court is a spectacle. In modern life this situation doesn’t match to us. For example, government raised the fee of the universities. But minimum wage of population is not enough to pay it,” says Mukhabze.

The 9th of April Youth Movement had protests in front of Ministry of Education and Parliament.

The result is “We achieved their fear – now the government is scared of Georgians power, Georgians youth, girls, and people. No one can break Georgian spirit,” says Mukhabze.

The 9th of April Youth Movement was created three years ago, and it renames itself when demonstrations hit Tbilisi streets. For example, they called themselves the 7th of November Movement before, when hundreds of youth attended the protests.  Now it is aply renamed the 9th of April.

“We will stay till the end even if we need stay in front of the Parliament at night,” say activists of the movement.
By Vusala Alibayli