Georgians celebrating Independence Day with rally in Tbilisi

Independence Day rally in Tbilisi. Photo: Twitter/@tweetforAnna

It’s possibly the most festive 24 hours in the whole of Georgia as the country marks its Independence Day on Friday (May 26) by holding a rally in the capital Tbilisi.

Independence Day is an annual public holiday and marks the 1918 adoption of the Act of Independence, which established the Democratic Republic of Georgia in the aftermath of the 1917 Russian Revolution.

In remarks during Friday's event in Tbilisi’s Freedom Square, Georgian President Salome Zourbichvili appeared to indirectly criticize the Georgian government for its policy towards Russia and for its handling of the influx of Russians into Georgia since the start of the Ukraine conflict.

“It is not clear why no measures and legal regulations have been taken for the activities here for those who come from Russia. This is especially true in areas such as healthcare and education, or even the acquisition of real estate and not paying due taxes,” Zourbichvili said.

Historically, Moscow has been anxious to maintain its influence over states it dominated during Soviet times, especially those with energy pipelines and significant ethnic Russian communities.

Modern-day Georgia, a country with a population of 3.7 million people, has been striving for closer ties with the European Union. Until the war in Ukraine, Tbilisi had been trying to strike a balance between East and West but found it hard to strengthen relations with Europe without upsetting Russia.

In 2008 Georgia and Russia fought a five-day war over South Ossetia when Russia crushed a Georgian assault on the breakaway pro-Moscow territory.

Russia recognized South Ossetia and the Black Sea region of Abkhazia as independent states in the wake of the war.

It was also in 2008 that Georgia underlined its independence by withdrawing from the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States, a political bloc that was created as the Soviet Union fell apart.