Thousands of Georgian protesters attempt to storm parliament demanding government resign

Police fire tear gas as appearance of Russian politician in parliament building sparks anger

Police have fired a volley of tear gas at a massive throng of protesters outside the Georgian Parliament who tried to storm the building to demand the government's resignation.

The clouds of gas appeared to do little to discourage the crowd. Police earlier Thursday turned back an attempt by the crowd to storm the building, then pushed back another surge about two hours later.

Some demonstrators hoisted shields that had been seized from riot police.

The unrest was sparked by the appearance Thursday of Russian legislator Sergei Gavrilov in the building as part of an assembly of politicians from Orthodox Christian countries.

A riot policeman fires a tear gas canister towards protesters during a rally against a Russian lawmaker's visit in Tbilisi, Georgia June 21, 2019. Reuters
A riot policeman fires a tear gas canister towards protesters during a rally against a Russian lawmaker's visit in Tbilisi, Georgia June 21, 2019. Reuters

Mr Gavrilov has supported independence for the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, over which Georgia lost control in a 2008 war with Russia.

He is also a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is despised by many Georgians.

Georgia and Russia broke diplomatic relations after the war and although steps have been made to restore normal relations, animosity towards Moscow is strong and many Georgians resent any sort of official visit by Russians.

The visit of the Russian delegation of the Orthodox assembly already had prompted complaints, but the anger turned into a street protest after Mr Gavrilov sat in the chair of the Georgian Parliament speaker during a session of the assembly.

Updated: June 21, 2019 04:52 AM

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