Georgians angry over Russian MP's visit try to storm parliament

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas as thousands gathered outside parliament against address by a Russian lawmaker.

    Georgian police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters attempting to storm parliament on Thursday after a lawmaker from Russia addressed the assembly from the speaker’s seat, causing an uproar in Tbilisi.

    Ambulances evacuated several injured protesters, an AFP reporter witnessed.

    About 10,000 protesters had gathered outside parliament after a controversial address by Russian MP Sergei Gavrilov. Some broke through riot police cordons to enter the parliament courtyard.

    They were pushed back by police but some continued surging forward, prompting police to fire rubber bullets and tear gas, stopping after many of the protesters broke away and left.

    About 3,000 remained outside parliament after the tear gas subsided.

    Earlier, tens of thousands also rallied in the streets of central Tbilisi, demanding speaker Irakli Kobakhidze step down after Gavrilov’s address to an annual meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO) – a forum of lawmakers from predominantly Orthodox countries.

    The Russian MP’s presence in fiercely pro-Western Georgia’s parliament prompted outrage in the ex-Soviet nation which in 2008 fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    A group of Georgian opposition lawmakers demanded the Russian delegation leave the plenary chamber.

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