On Tuesday, the Georgian Parliament unexpectedly adopted in the first reading a law on “foreign agents” similar to that adopted in Russia, aimed at limiting Western influence.
The decision of the deputies sparked spontaneous protests and clashes outside the parliament, during which the police used tear gas, and then actively used water cannons to disperse the rally. The protesters tried to break into parliament.
Thousands of people took part in a protest outside the Georgian parliament building against the law on foreign agents, which protesters say is aimed at freedom of the press. By evening, they began to throw Molotov cocktails at law enforcement officers, who used a water cannon and tear gas. The protesters broke through the iron fences near the Georgian Parliament, put up by the police.
The draft law, approved in the first reading, will require media organizations with more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as “agents of foreign influence.” President Salome Zurabishvili supported the protesters and promised to veto the bill:
“I am standing in New York and behind me is the Statue of Liberty. This is the symbol that Georgia has always fought for, for which we have come to this day. I am with you because today you represent a free Georgia. Georgia that sees its future in Europe and will not give anyone the right to take away this future. This law must be repealed in any form.”
The authors of the scandalous bill argue that it is necessary for the transparency of the work of organizations funded by representatives of foreign states. At the same time, Parliament has the right to override the President’s veto.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia stated that on March 7, 66 people were detained at a rally under the parliament building – for petty hooliganism and disobedience to the lawful demands of the police, the Georgian channel reports. Mtavari. A case was initiated against the detainees under Articles 166 and 173 of the Code of Administrative Offenses:
“The facts of the offenses committed by these persons will be submitted to the court within the time period established by law.”
According to the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs, an investigation has been launched in accordance with Articles 353 and 187 of the Criminal Code of Georgia in relation to violent incidents that took place at a protest rally near the parliament building:
“The Ministry will give an appropriate legal assessment of the actions of all persons who contributed to and organized the development of a peaceful protest into a violent action.”
The department said that as a result of the actions of the protesters, 50 employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were injured, some of them needed surgical intervention and are still in medical institutions. Civilians were also injured during the action.
Evening on the same day EU warned Georgia of “serious consequences” if the law were finally adopted, while the US hinted at possible sanctions against Georgia. The West pointed out to the Georgian authorities that the adoption of the law on foreign agents would negatively affect the democratic development of the country and hurt Tbilisi’s aspirations to join the European Union.
Meanwhile, Mikheil Saakashvili’s party announced for today, Wednesday, March 8, new protests in Tbilisi after an attempt to storm the parliament last night. Gathering near the parliament for today was announced by the former leader of the United National Movement Nika Melia, his quotes opposition TV channel Mtvari. The opposition claims numerous arrests of rally participants, including among politicians:
“At three in the afternoon we gather on Rustaveli Avenue. And this will be repeated every day until the entire Rustaveli Avenue (where the parliament is located) becomes Georgian and not Russian. Until we achieve victory.”
Mass brawl in parliament and protests: Georgia may have its own law on “foreign agents”:
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