TBILISI (Eurasianet)–After two days of testy debates, the Georgian parliament moved to toughen the rules for public assembly. The July 16 vote prompted opposition parties to walk out of parliament in protest.
Under the new rules, city traffic can be blocked only if demonstrators cannot fit onto a sidewalk. The opposition views this term as direct response to the ongoing street protest campaign that has blocked Tbilisi’s central Rustaveli Avenue, where parliament is located, for more than three months. The amendments also give police the right to use rubber bullets against demonstrators.
The governing United National Movement Party, however, agreed to postpone approval of a proposal to extend pre-trial detention terms for violations of public assembly rules from 30 to 90 days and to increase fines for writing graffiti on government buil