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The Daily Beat: 15 April

On Monday evening, thousands of Georgian citizens gathered in front of the Parliament building to protest against the reintroduced Foreign Agents law.

The ruling Georgian Dream party endorsed the Foreign Agents Law at the Legal Affairs Committee amid the mass protest, having expelled the dissenting opposition MPs from the Committee hearing.

Police detained 14 people during the mass rally on the night of April 15 against the Foreign Agents Law, the Interior Ministry reported. The riot police were in full gear, as well as water cannons were mobilized in the vicinity of the parliament, urging citizens to disperse and “not exceed the limits of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”  

“Massive peaceful demonstration of civil society in Tbilisi against the “Russian law.” “Spetznaz” with water and gas canons ready to pass to action against civilians defending their European future. Arrests are ongoing. Georgia will not surrender to “resovietisation,” President Salome Zurabishvili posted on X.

Mass protests and arrests were preceded by tempers and scuffles at the Legal Affairs Committee hearing. The Legal Affairs committee’s deliberations on Foreign Agents Law were abruptly interrupted when opposition lawmaker Aleko Elisashvili from the Citizen’s Party punched Mamuka Mdinaradze, the leader of the parliamentary majority, in the face, removing him from the rostrum.  Moments later, Elisashvili himself was forcefully taken away and beaten by several Georgian Dream MPs just outside the committee hall.

Since Monday morning, citizens gathered to rally near the parliament building in protest against the Russian-style Foreign Agents Law as the parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee began discussing the bill. The demonstrators were holding banners reading “No to Russian law,” “This law is a big wall between Georgia and EU,” “There is a Vi-Rus in Georgia,” “No to Russia, Yes to EU,” and others. Protesters unfurled a giant EU flag near parliament.

Speaker of the Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, limited journalists’ access to the parliament building, allowing only accredited TV journalists and restricting online media representatives from attending the Committee hearing on the Foreign Agents Law.

The European Union Ambassador Paweł Herczyński, the United Kingdom Ambassador Mark Clayton, and the United States Ambassador Robin Dunnigan met with Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze while the Legal Affairs Committee considered the bill. The government administration said that the draft law “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” was the topic of discussion at the meeting. The ambassadors left the government building without comments.

On Sunday evening, PM Irakli Kobakhidze issued an official statement slamming the U.S., EU, and EU member state ambassadors for “interference” and “substituting the opposition” and inviting them to publicly debate the Foreign Agents Law. The statement, suggesting an unprecedented break from diplomatic practice, comes on the eve of PM Kobakhidze’s visit to Berlin, where he publicly clashed with Chancellor Olaf Sholtz.

More than 100 persons with disabilities and disability rights organizations from different regions of Georgia addressed the Georgian Parliament on April 8, urging it “not to pass the anti-state, anti-European and pro-Russian law.”

The “Comparative Analysis” of the Day

What is happening today is exactly what happened in the Soviet Union… You could not take any steps without the approval of the Central Committee (of the Communist Party). Have you seen in any developed country a diplomat interfering in what laws or decisions the parliament should make?” said Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, while commenting on the international criticism regarding the ruling GD party’s reintroduction of the Foreign Agents Law.


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