bidzina ivanishvili - 2013-05-14

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. (DFWatch photo.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili says the government will protect minorities in the country through legal ways, but not ‘artificially.’

At a monthly press conference at Metechi Palace Hotel Wednesday, Ivanishvili also addressed the issue of how to protect the rights of religious and sexual minorities.

Villagers in Samtatskharo, in eastern Georgia, have in recent weeks prevented Muslims from conducting their Friday prayer, and last week beat the wife of a Hajji.

The prime minister said that the government intends to ensure the rule of law.

“According to our constitution every religious minority has a right to pray as they wish,” he said. “First of all, I ask the Samtatskharo population to have a good will and protect the rule of law.”

Ivanishvili said the government is trying to assure both sides to allow minorities to perform their religious rituals.

“If this doesn’t happen through negotiations, we will use the law in its very strict way.”

The prime minister also talked about the violence on May 17, when LGBT activists were prevented from conducting a peaceful rally against homophobia in Tbilisi, as radical Orthodox clerics and their supporters physically attacked them.

The investigation continues, Ivanishivli said.

“For the first time in history two acting priests have been charged, and they will be punished in accordance with the law.”