Georgian spiritual leader criticizes police and protesters

Fri 27 May 2011 09:47 GMT | 13:47 Local Time

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The leader of the Georgian Orthodox Church has called on the authorities to be merciful to those detained during dispersal of an opposition rally.

Patriarch Ilia II expressed his sorrow at the death of two people during the dispersal of the rally in the small hours of 26 May and offered his condolences to their families.

"We are sorry that the Georgian people met their Independence Day in this manner. According to the pictures we saw on TV, it is clear the demonstrators did not take into consideration the warning from the state. However the protesters were largely assaulted and hurt by the violent behaviour of the police," the statement from the Patriarchate says.

As soon as dispersal of the rally began shortly after midnight on 25-26 May, clergymen and an archbishop went to Rustaveli Avenue with the blessing of Ilia ll to help people by taking them into Kashveti church, opposite parliament, the statement said.

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