NewsProtests erupt in Georgia over controversial 'foreign agents' bill

Protests erupt in Georgia over controversial 'foreign agents' bill

Mass protests in Georgia
Mass protests in Georgia
Images source: © TG

9:04 AM EDT, April 29, 2024

Over 15,000 individuals rallied on Sunday in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, to voice their opposition against the proposed "foreign agents" bill, leading to confrontations with law enforcement. During these clashes, police resorted to tear gas while protestors erected barricades for protection against special forces.

The demonstration on Sunday marks another phase in ongoing protests organized by opposition parties and activists over several weeks. The initial protest emerged early in April, following the government's announcement to resume work on a contentious bill, which had been shelved a year earlier due to public backlash.

Georgians take to the streets en masse

This controversial proposal, known as the law on foreign agents and inspired by similar legislation in Russia, requires legal entities and media outlets receiving over 20 percent of their funding from foreign sources to register and report their activities.

Besides mandatory registration and reporting, those affected would also be listed in a special registry of foreign influence agents, with the Ministry of Justice authorized to inspect these organizations.

Clashes erupted between protestors and security forces, with the latter employing pepper spray against the demonstrators.

Proponents from the ruling Georgian Dream party claim that the bill aims to enhance transparency within the nation's political sphere.

Escalation with police using gas

Prepared with several water cannons, police awaited orders to disperse the crowd.

The bill is slated for its final reading in the parliament on May 17. President Salome Zurabishvili has vowed to veto it, though she warns that the Georgian Dream party has enough parliamentary support to override it.

International reactions from the USA, EU, and UN have been critical of the bill. They urge Tbilisi's officials to abandon the proposal, arguing it undermines Georgia's European ambitions and integration process into the EU—a status as a candidate member was granted to Georgia in December 2023.

In defiance, Georgian Dream has refused to withdraw the bill, labeling the international critiques and appeals as meddling in Georgia's internal affairs.

As the day progressed, protestors utilized makeshift barriers for protection from the special forces, with many beginning to depart from the parliamentary square before 5 PM Eastern Time.

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