Georgia protesters return to streets despite speaker resignation | News | DW | 21.06.2019
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Georgia protesters return to streets despite speaker resignation

Thousands took to the streets of Georgia's capital once again after anti-Russia protests the night before left hundreds injured. Russia's Vladimir Putin has also suspended flights to Georgia over the situation.

For a second night in a row, thousands of people protested outside Georgia's parliament on Friday, demanding early parliamentary elections.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 people had assembled in front of parliament in the capital Tbilisi on Friday despite clashes with police the night before that left 240 people injured.

Many of the protesters wore eye patches in honor of those who lost their eyes in altercations with police, and carried signs reading: "Don't shoot at us — we are your children."

Earlier on Friday, Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze quit his post after demonstrators and the opposition called for his resignation.

Georgien Proteste in Tbilisi (picture-allainace/AP Photo/S. Aivazov)

Protesters are now calling for the resignation of the interior minister over the clashes the night before

He has been held responsible for a controversial visit by a Russian delegation which saw a Russian lawmaker address parliament from the speaker's seat on Thursday.

The opposition is now calling for snap parliamentary elections and for the resignation of Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia over the violent reaction of the police from Thursday night's protests.

Russia suspends flights

In response to the protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday that temporarily bans Russian airlines from flying to Georgia as of July.

His spokesman earlier condemned the protests as "Russophobic provocation."

Tensions between Russia and Georgia remain high more than a decade after the two nations fought a war in which Georgia effectively lost two large chunks of its territory — South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Moscow has recognized both areas as independent states and stationed permanent military bases in each, leading to anti-Russian sentiment in the region and condemnation from the West.

Watch video 01:48

Crowds try to storm Georgian parliament in Tbilisi

rs/aw (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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