‘We are not our government’: Georgians slam Ukraine war response

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has sparked political turmoil many miles away in Georgia, with citizens seemingly at odds with their government’s actions.

On February 24, the day the Russian invasion was announced, thousands of Georgians took to the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, to protest it – with some estimates claiming that up to 30,000 joined the march along the city’s Rustaveli Avenue.

While citizens were vocal, the government took a more cautious approach. When many European countries introduced sanctions against Russia, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili refused to impose curbs on the country’s northern neighbour, angering the populace.

“I want to state clearly and unambiguously, considering our national interests and interests of the people, Georgia does not plan to participate in the financial and economic sanctions, as this would only damage our country and populace more,” Garibashvili told reporters at a press conference on February 25.

Hours later, thousands again took to the streets of the capital – this time not just in solidarity with Ukraine but in protest at the government’s stance.

“I’m here not only to stand with Ukraine but because of the actions of the Georgian government,” Mindha Gablia, a protester in Tbilisi, told Al Jazeera.

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