Security Message (March 19, 2015): Demonstrations on March 19 and March 21, 2015

Date: March 19, 2015

U.S. Embassy Tbilisi informs U.S. citizens of three planned demonstrations called for by the United National Movement (UNM) for the stated purpose of protesting the government’s economic policies. Internet news sources and local news media are reporting on the expected demonstrations.

A demonstration is expected to take place in Zugdidi today, starting at 2:00pm.  Local authorities have not provided an estimate of the number of participants.

Another demonstration is expected to take place in Rustavi today, starting at 5:00pm.  The demonstration is planned for Shartava Square, and local authorities have not provided an estimate of the number of participants.

A third demonstration is expected to take place in Tbilisi on Saturday, March 21, 2015, starting at 4:00 pm.  This demonstration is to be held in downtown Tbilisi and will start at Rose Revolution Square and proceed along Rustaveli Avenue, ending in front of the former Parliament Building.  We anticipate the size of the demonstration to be large; a similar demonstration organized by the same group in November had an estimated 10,000 participants. The demonstration is expected to last for three to four hours and will severely impact traffic and pedestrian movement in the area during that time.

Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid areas of demonstrations, and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Georgia enroll in the Department of States Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Georgia at:http://www.travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/georgia.html. For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi is located at # 11 George Balanchine Street; 0131 Tbilisi, Georgia and is open 9.00 A.M. – 6.00 P.M., (Tel: 995-32) 227-7724.  If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the after-hours emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is (995 32) 227-7000. If calling from the local cell phone: (032) 227-7000.