Georgia – flag – illustration photo.
Tbilisi – Another demonstration by opposition supporters is taking place in the center of the Georgian capital, which was called in front of the parliament as a continuation of the protest against the controversial bill on foreign agents. The Russian media informed about it. According to critics, the bill, if passed, will move Georgia towards an authoritarian regime modeled after Russia.
Traffic on Rustaveli Avenue, where the parliament is located, was blocked by about a thousand protesters with flags of Georgia and the European Union. The protest, which is also attended by students and women's associations, is taking place peacefully, reported the correspondent of the Russian agency TASS. The newspaper Kommersant writes about “women's marches” that are taking place in ten cities on today's Women's Day. About a thousand women protest in the Georgian capital with “Stop Russia” banners and slogans against “totalitarian control”.
On Tuesday, the government majority in parliament approved the controversial law in the first reading. Already on Tuesday, thousands of opposition supporters gathered in front of the parliament, whose protest ended only after ten hours early this morning. Police detained 66 protesters who face penalties for disorderly conduct and disobeying police instructions, the Interior Ministry said. It added that fifty law enforcement officers were injured during the clashes. Heavy troops repeatedly used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons against the protesters, protesters threw cannons, firecrackers and also incendiary bottles at the police.
The proposed rule would require organizations that get more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents” and submit to Justice Department review. Otherwise, they would face heavy fines.
Critics see the law on foreign agents as a shift in the Transcaucasian republic towards an authoritarian regime modeled after Russia, where a similar law has been in force since 2012. Georgian President Salome Zourabishvili has promised to veto it because, according to her, threatens the country's hopes of joining the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance. But the governing majority could override her veto. The American Embassy described the adoption 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.
Zourabišvili already supported the protesters in a statement from the New York headquarters of the United Nations on Tuesday. At the same time, the president originally came from the ruling Georgian Dream party. “I am with you because you embody a free Georgia today,” she declared.