What Happened: Protests broke out June 20 in front of the parliament building in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi after Russian lawmaker Sergei Gavrilov addressed a session of the General Assembly of Orthodox Christians from the seat of the Georgian speaker of parliament, Civil.ge reported June 21. Thousands of people turned out, and clashes broke out when demonstrators tried to storm the parliament building, injuring over 200 people. Georgian Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze announced June 21 that he would resign over the protests, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin criticized the protesters.
Why It Matters: These short but sharp demonstrations reveal the strong anti-Russian sentiment that has persisted in Georgia since the August 2008 war between the two countries. The demonstrations appear to have been contained for now following the resignation of the parliamentary speaker, but they could reignite at any moment. The ruling Georgian Dream party, which has dominated Georgian politics since its emergence in 2013 but has been subject to increased infighting and scandals during its six years in power, could experience further political fallout from the demonstrations.
Background: Russia and Georgia have not had full diplomatic relations since their 2008 war. Russia has de facto control over the breakaway Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.