Tens of thousands gathered outside the parliament building in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, today to protest the controversial law on foreign agents. Georgia police called on the demonstrators to disperse. After that, I took action against them with water cannons and tear gas.
This was reported by Agence France-Presse. According to the Georgian news agency Enterprise News, the protest leaders gave the government an ultimatum to withdraw the base and release those arrested from Tuesday’s demonstration. Critics say the bill, if passed, would push Georgia toward an authoritarian regime similar to Russia.
The Georgian news agency Enterprise News reported that protesters trying to protect themselves with sheet metal threw stones and other objects at the parliament building. According to her, there were injuries among the protest participants.
Late in the evening, the police also used stun grenades to drive away dozens of people after they breached an iron barricade erected not far from Parliament. I wrote Reuters.
Traffic on Rustaveli Street, where Parliament is located, has been blocked by demonstrators hoisting Georgian and European Union flags since noon today. Some demonstrators chanted “No to Russian law!” The crowd later surrounded the Legislative Council building.
“We give the Russian interests exactly one hour to announce that they will withdraw the law from Parliament and release the detainees yesterday (Tuesday). Otherwise, we will announce further steps,” opposition leader Giorgi Vasadze confirmed. She also mentioned that the demonstrators were bombing the bars at the entrance to the Legislative Council building.
Pictures from Tuesday’s protests in Georgia
Thousands of people demonstrated in front of the Georgian parliament, and the police dispersed them with tear gas. It was a reaction to the foreign agents law adopted by the government, which, according to critics, was inspired by Putin’s legislation.
On Tuesday, the majority in Parliament approved the controversial law in the first reading. Indeed, thousands of opposition supporters gathered on Tuesday in front of Parliament, whose protest ended after only ten hours this morning. The Interior Ministry said that police arrested 66 protesters who face penalties for disorderly conduct and disobeying police instructions.
According to the ministry, fifty law enforcement officers were injured during the clashes. Heavy forces frequently used tear gas, stun grenades, and water cannons against protesters, and protesters threw cannons, firecrackers, and Molotov cocktails at police.
The proposed regulation would require organizations that get more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents” and submit them to the Justice Department for review. Otherwise, they will face heavy fines.
Critics see the foreign agents law as a shift in the Caucasian republic toward an authoritarian regime modeled on Russia, where a similar law has been in place since 2012. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has vowed to use her veto because, she says, it threatens the country’s hopes of joining the European Union and NATO. But the ruling majority can override the veto.
The US embassy described the passage of the law in the first reading as “a black day for Georgian democracy.” According to the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, the law is not compatible with the values of the European Union. Today, some EU countries and Ukraine have also joined the critics of the standard.
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Zurabishvili had already endorsed the protesters in a statement issued by the United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday. At the same time, the president originally came from the ruling Georgian Dream party. “I am with you, because today you personify a free Georgia,” she said.
Critics say the Georgian dream is too close to Russia and that the country has moved toward authoritarianism in recent years. Reuters reported that Georgian society is staunchly anti-Moscow after years of conflicts with Russia over the two Moscow-backed separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
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