US Ambassador to Georgia, Kelly Degnan, expressed concern over the developments in connection with the Tbilisi Pride Festival.
She mentioned that the police had assured her that protesters would not be allowed to breach the police periphery and disrupt the event. However, she observed that an unruly mob was permitted to march through the streets of Tbilisi, calling for violence, and ultimately vandalizing and looting property at the event site without any response from the police.
“I just wanted to start with a comment on the events last Saturday at Lisi Lake. It was very sad to see people so filled with hate using violence to prevent a peaceful, private concert from occurring, especially when they claim to be acting in God’s name.
People may disagree about many things, but I think we can all agree that Christian values, first and foremost, are about compassion, love, tolerance, respect, about the fact that all people are created in God’s image.
We saw last year at the events that the police know how to protect citizens and control protesters. I was assured the day before last week’s Saturday event by senior officials at the Ministry of Internal Affairs that the protesters would not be allowed to break through the police periphery and that the protesters would be kept a safe distance from the people attending the concert, none of that happened. We saw none of that.
In fact, an unruly mob was allowed to walk for several kilometres through the streets of Tbilisi, calling for violence. They were allowed not only to breach the police perimeter but to enter the site and vandalize, loot, and destroy property with no response from the police.
It’s very concerning to see what is a seemingly coordinated series of attacks on citizens in the streets of Tbilisi. These same extremists that we saw on Saturday were the same extremists that organized the violence in 2021. They are on their Facebook sites, on video, caught on video, advocating and calling for violence, saying that they’re going to crush jaws and spill blood, walking through the streets of Tbilisi, threatening people with violence and being proud to say they are for violence.
I think everyone will feel a lot safer in Tbilisi when these people, who are on video, are arrested and prosecuted,” Ambassador Degnan said.