For a second night in a row, police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia.
The protesters are upset over a contentious proposal modeled after a Russian rule that would label media and non-governmental organizations as “foreign agents” if they get more than 20% of their funding from abroad.
Police repelled demonstrators who tore down a metal barricade outside parliament on Wednesday night.
Some persons were hurt while the crowds were being ordered to disperse.
Hundreds of riot police were visible in the streets late on Wednesday night, brandishing shields and donning helmets, according to images from Georgian TV. At least one police vehicle had flipped over.
As police attempted to disperse the protestors, clouds of tear gas soared above the streets around the parliament building.
Tens of thousands of people participated in the second day of protests earlier.
These occurred outside of parliament, where legislators on Tuesday supported a first reading of the contentious new bill, which has been roundly denounced globally.
In Russia, a similar law has been used to stifle civil society and severely restrict journalistic freedom.
“We think that our administration is under Russian influence and it’s very negative for our future,” said Lizzie, one of many students taking part in the protests.
The demonstrators fear that if the new law is implemented, it will harm the nation’s chances of becoming an EU member.
On March 8, 2023, demonstrators marched in Tbilisi, Georgia, in opposition to a draft law on “foreign agents,” which opponents claim indicates a shift toward authoritarianism and could harm Georgia’s efforts to join the European Union.
SOURCE OF IMAGE: REUTERS
Officials reported that 55 police officers were harmed during the first night of protests when stones and petrol bombs were thrown at them. Hundreds of protestors had congregated in the streets surrounding the parliament. Images of demonstrators waving EU flags being splashed with water from a water cannon on Tuesday night were some of the most striking.
The “stir” surrounding the proposed bill was criticized by the prime minister, Irakli Gharibashvili, as it was being read in parliament for the first time on Tuesday. According to the ruling Georgian Dream party, the law originated with US laws from the 1930s. Russia adopted the same defense after adopting a related statute in 2012.
Since then, Russian law has been strengthened to repress NGOs supported by the West as well as independent media, journalists, and bloggers. Anyone who has been identified as a foreign agent must now make a note of this fact in their publication.
The planned legislation has also been referred to as a “Russian bill” by television stations that favor the opposition.
Josep Borrell, the head of the EU’s foreign policy, cautioned that the measure was “incompatible with EU values and norms” despite the fact that Georgia has sought for candidate status with the EU and wants to join Nato.
Another student, Lia Chagovadze, said she and her classmates were come to fight for Western ideals and freedom, while Nanuka Shakinovi said the demonstrators would not allow the government to derail Georgia’s effort to join the EU: “We are going to battle them and we will not stop until we win.”
Tbilisi protesters IMAGE SOURCE, REUTERS
Protesters claim that Russia has control over the administration, as seen in the image caption.
Luka Kimeridze, 30, said, “They’re doing everything they can to distance us from the European Union and European values.
Irakli Kobakhidze, the leader of Georgian Dream, argued that it was inaccurate to compare the draft bill to Russia’s own oppressive laws. The controversy will eventually calm down, he predicted, and the public will have access to information about how NGOs are funded.
Transparency International’s Eka Gigauri, however, told the BBC that NGOs were already governed by ten different laws and that the finance ministry already had complete access to accounts, funding, and other data.