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Police repress protests in Georgia

by SuperiorInvest

Protesters clash with police as they block the doors of the parliament building to prevent deputies of the ruling Georgian Dream Party from leaving inside a protest against the draft law on “Transparency of foreign influence”, in Tbilisi, Georgia, on April 30, 2024. (Photo by Davit Kachkachishvili/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Kachkachishvili davit | Anadolu | fake images

Riot police reportedly used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon against protesters in Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, as demonstrations over the so-called foreign agents bill escalated.

Clashes lasted well into the night on Tuesday, with police attempting to disperse protesters who Georgia's Interior Ministry said were violating demonstration laws by blocking entrances and exits to the country's Parliament. Sixty-three people were arrested, the ministry said.

“Totally unjustified, unprovoked and disproportionate use of force against peaceful protesters is taking place in Tbilisi,” Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili said in a statement. mail on the social media platform X.

The bill would force non-governmental organizations, campaign groups and media platforms that receive at least 20% of their funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents.” They would also be under close scrutiny by Georgia's Ministry of Justice and forced to share confidential details with authorities, or face large fines.

Law enforcement officers detain a protester during a demonstration against a controversial “foreign influence” bill, which Brussels says would undermine Georgia's European aspirations, near parliament in Tbilisi on April 30, 2024.

Giorgi Arjevanidze | afp | fake images

Police use tear gas to disperse protesters near the Georgian parliament during a demonstration against a controversial “foreign influence” bill, which Brussels says would undermine Georgia's European aspirations, in Tbilisi on April 30, 2024.

Giorgi Arjevanidze | afp | fake images

Protesters clash with law enforcement officers during a demonstration against a controversial “foreign influence” bill, which Brussels says would undermine Georgia's European aspirations, in Tbilisi on April 30, 2024.

Giorgi Arjevanidze | afp | fake images

The ruling Georgia Dream party proposed the bill and members of Parliament gave their initial approval earlier this month. Another vote is expected on Wednesday.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze accused NGOs of trying to launch revolutions and spread propaganda in the country, while Georgia Dream founder Bidzina Ivanishvili said on Monday that foreign funding of NGOs It was a way to strengthen intelligence agencies, Reuters reported. They argue that the bill would increase transparency.

Opponents of the bill, including Georgian President Zourabichvili, say it would obstruct press freedom and move the country further away from the European Union and closer to Russia.

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Georgia became an EU candidate country at the end of 2023, however member countries voted not to start accession talks while the “foreign agents” bill is being considered. The United States has also been critical, with the State Department saying it was “incredibly concerning” and “similar to the type of legislation we see from the Kremlin.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Wednesday that using force to suppress the right to peaceful assembly is “unacceptable.”

“I strongly condemn the violence against protesters in Georgia who were peacefully demonstrating against the law on foreign influence. Georgia is an EU candidate country, I call on its authorities to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly. The use of force to suppress it is unacceptable.” he saying in a post on X.

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