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WATCH protesters storm Georgia’s parliament building

The demonstrations against the controversial ‘foreign agents’ bill continued in Tbilisi on Wednesday night

Protesters clashed with police in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi and tried to break into the country’s parliament on Wednesday night, as intense rallies against the controversial ‘foreign agents’ bill continue. 

A large crowd gathered outside the parliament building for a second night in a row, with activists waving Georgian and EU flags. They oppose the bill that would force organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents.” The MPs approved the second reading of the bill on Wednesday.

A group of protesters, some wearing ski masks, dismantled security fences and attempted to break into the legislative compound. Police officers responded with water cannons and pepper spray, pushing intruders from the gate. 

Some protesters were filmed brawling with the officers and resisting arrest. According to Georgia’s First Channel, protesters erected barricades and blocked several roads in central Tbilisi. 

A total of 63 people were detained for public disturbances the previous night, when activists also clashed with police, Deputy Interior Minister Alexander Darakhvelidze told reporters.

The leading pro-Western opposition party United National Movement said that its leader Levan Khabeishvili was briefly “kidnapped” and beaten by police in the early hours of Wednesday. Khabeishvili attended a parliament meeting later that day with bandages on his nose and forehead.

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Protestors clash with police in Tbilisi, Georgia on April 30, 2024.
Pro-Western party leader ‘beaten by police’ during Tbilisi protest – opposition

The opposition has branded the controversial bill “a Russian law,” drawing comparison to the legislation that was passed in Russia in 2012 and has since been expanded. The protesters insist that the government would use the legislation to stigmatize independent media and punish dissent.

The ruling Georgian Dream party argues that the bill is closer to the US Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 and is in line with EU standards.

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze defended the bill on Wednesday, claiming that NGOs and the media are exploiting their lack of transparency to “engage in activities that completely go against the interests of the Georgian state and society,” including “the propaganda of drugs and LGBT.” 

The government first introduced the bill last year, but was forced to withdraw it following protest and clashes.

May 02, 2024 at 05:06AM

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