Riots in Batumi: results

Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili arrived in Batumi (Adjara), where riots happened last night.

"Kvirikashvili departed to Batumi, where he will personally learn about the current situation," presidential administration reported.

This morning Adjara Health Minister Zaal Mikeladze said that 33 people were taken to Batumi hospitals following the overnight unrest. Of these, 15 were police officers. Mikeladze said that the most of these people had suffered injuries in stone-throwing. Others were poisoned due to tear gas that the riot police used. Mikeladze added all of these people suffered only minor injuries except one person who remains in hospital due to a concussion, Agenda.ge reported.

The riots erupted after a traffic police officer tried issuing a driver a fine while verbally abusing him. Witnesses said several locals defended the driver, engaging in clashes with police, with six people detained as a result. The arrests prompted hundreds of people to gather in front of the local Interior Ministry building and demand for the new traffic police chief to resign, blaming him for excessive fines.

The Georgian Interior Ministry ordered the release of all six people detained earlier in an attempt to quell the violence. Kvirikashvili has accused "destructive" political forces of causing the riots, stressing that police were in minimum response mode to avoid any escalation.

A total of 40 people have been detained in the wake of the violence, according to Interior Minister Giorgi Mghebrishvili. He added that police have used adequate and proportional measures to prevent the city from further damage. Mghebrishvili pledged that no one who organised and participated in the unrest will remain unpunished.

The Georgian authorities will never let the country slide back into chaos in the wake of the riots in the regional capital Batumi despite ill intentions by opposition figures, the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party said Sunday.

"Regardless of how much our enemies and radical United National Movement leaders want chaos to return to our country, this will never happen. Together with the people and the government of Adjara, we will protect peace and continue development. The city will soon return to normal and those who suffered will receive support from the authorities," Sputnik quoted party's statement, in which it referred to now-exiled former President Mikheil Saakashvili's party.

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