10:26 GMT +322 July 2019
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    thousands of protesters gather outside the parliament building in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi

    Police Use Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets Against Tbilisi Protesters - Reports (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

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    Thousands of protesters clashed with police during a rally following an incident in the parliament building that involved members of the Russian delegation attending a session of the General Assembly of the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy, according to local media.

    Earlier on Thursday, Georgian opposition lawmakers left the session as the president of the assembly, Sergey Gavrilov, a member of the Russian delegation, opened the session in the seat of the head of the Georgian parliament. The session was interrupted and the building was assaulted by radicals. Gavrilov later said that water was splashed over him.

    According to Georgia's 1TV broadcaster, protesters demand the resignation of the parliamentary speaker and the interior minister over the incident.

    Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia said later on Thursday he was ready to leave his post if necessary.

    "No problem, I will resign if there is such a need", the minister told reporters.

    Meanwhile, Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has welcomed a "justified public protest", but stressed that the opposition was trying to politicize the protests and destabilize the situation.

    "This picture [involving the Russian lawmaker] provoked the reaction of every citizen, and I agree with this protest. It was a justified protest, but what is happening in the last two hours is violence [...] The United National Movement is trying to destabilize the situation in the country", Bakhtadze told reporters.

     

    Meanwhile, local police reportedly fired rubber bullets at protesters near the country's parliament building.

    According to the Rustavi 2 broadcaster, a reporter from Georgia's 1TV was hit by a rubber bullet amid ongoing clashes with local police. "A journalist from Georgia's state-run broadcaster was injured. There are many people were injured. Clashes [are] ongoing", Rustavi 2 reported.

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