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The Daily Beat: 9 April

On this day, Georgia marks the 35th anniversary of the brutal suppression of pro-independence protests in Tbilisi by the Soviet army on 9 April 1989, which left 21 dead and hundreds injured. Most of the victims were women. Two years later, on the same day, following the defeat of the Communist Party and the subsequent referendum, the Georgian parliament declared the restoration of Georgia’s independence.

The PM Irakli Kobakhidze, the Mayor of Tbilisi, Kakha Kaladze, and representatives of the executive and legislative branches of government participated in the commemoration ceremony. Representatives of the opposition, the diplomatic corps, and ordinary citizens also paid tribute to the memory of the fallen victims of the April 9 massacre.

Speaking at the April 9 memorial, President Salome Zurabishvili drew parallels between the past and present fight for freedom and independence, saying, “And the fact that on 8 April some people dared to reintroduce Russian law is the biggest sign of their defeat. Anyone – today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow – who comes to Georgia with the Russian flag, the Russian symbol, and the Russian subjugation [intention] will never prevail…”

The foreign embassies also joined the Georgian authorities and public in commemorating the April 9 victims massacred by Soviet troops, honoring their legacy and expressing support for the country’s independence and sovereignty.

Later in the day, Georgian activists again took to Rustaveli Avenue to protest the Russian-style Foreign Agents bill reintroduced by the ruling Georgian Dream party. The march, entitled “Yes to Europe, No to Russia,” ended in front of the Georgian Parliament building, where Georgian freedom fighters once lost their lives at the hands of the Soviets.

Matthew Miller, Spokesperson for the United States Department of State, once again reacted to the reintroduction of the Foreign Agents law, urging the Georgian authorities to “stay tuned.” “Right now, we are making clear that we are concerned with this draft legislation. With respect to what we might do if it moves forward, stay tuned,” said Matthew Miller during the press briefing on April 8.

The United Nations in Georgia expressed “profound concern” over the ruling Georgian Dream’s re-tabling of the Foreign Agents Law and “regret” over abolishing the mandatory gender quotas for political parties in electoral lists. In its statement, the UN urged Georgia to withdraw the draft law, calling on the country to conduct “broad, inclusive, and meaningful consultations with a wide range of stakeholders on relations between the state and civil society.”

Armenian CSOs issued a statement expressing their solidarity with Georgian civil society and their commitment to assist in any way deemed helpful following the ruling party’s decision to reintroduce the Russian-style Foreign Agents Bill. “We support you in your courage to stand against Georgia’s government’s consistent and constant efforts to limit civic freedoms and fundamental human rights, including in the form of limiting the political participation of women, also by re-introducing the draft law on Transparency of Foreign Influence,” reads the CSOs statement.

The State Security Service refuted the reports of the journalistic investigation conducted by 60 Minutes, The Insider, and Der Spiegel, which identified alleged cases of Russian sonic attacks – dubbed “Havana Syndrom” – on some U.S. officials in Tbilisi. Security Service also accused the Georgian media of trying to discredit the service for republishing reports.

On April 9, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) unanimously ruled in the Georgia v. Russia case that the ongoing process of “borderization” since 2009 had violated the right to life, the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty, the right to respect for private and family life, the right to protection of property, the right to education, and the right to freedom of movement.


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