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The Daily Beat: 16 April

Late at night on Tuesday, the riot police demonstrated sporadic and unpredictable use of indiscriminate force while dispersing the remaining protesters near the parliament building. Several journalists, including from online media outlets Publika and Tabula, as well as protesters, were reportedly chased and beaten during the late-night rally.  

On Tuesday evening, another mass demonstration took place near the parliament building, heavily guarded by the police, while the legislature was discussing the Foreign Agents Law. After Georgian Dream lawmakers left the building, the situation escalated as riot police used pepper spray to disperse peaceful protesters without warning, deliberately targeting the faces of protesters. The Interior Ministry reported the detention of 11 people during the rally.

Following the Legal Affairs Committee‘s approval, the ruling Georgian Dream party launched discussions at the parliament plenary session to adopt the Foreign Agents bill in the first reading amid the ongoing protests outside the parliament building. The plenary adjourned without a vote, pledging to resume discussions the next day. CSOs and activists believe the bill’s adoption in the first reading is expected on April 17.

President Salome Zurabishvili appealed to the European Council President Charles Michel and the French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the developments in Georgia at tomorrow’s session of the European Council, even though the issue is not on the agenda, reported the President’s Administration.

The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, stated that the so-called “Foreign Agents Law” reintroduced by the ruling Georgian Dream party “is not consistent with Georgia’s EU aspiration and its accession trajectory.” He emphasized that adopting this law “will bring Georgia further away” from the EU.

Theodoros Rousopoulos, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), requested an urgent opinion from the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) on the compliance of the so-called Foreign Agents Bill “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” with Council of Europe standards, the Council of Europe said in an announcement.

Public Defender’s Office called on the Interior Ministry to ensure the “protection of all citizens’ freedom of expression and assembly in a safe environment” and “to adhere to the relevant international standards” in case it uses force against the demonstrators at the ongoing rally against the reintroduced Foreign Agents Law.

At today’s parliamentary session, the ruling Georgian Dream party failed to elect a new Chair and three members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) due to lack of quorum. With the support of “Girchi” and “European Socialists,” the candidates for the CEC were supposed to receive 91 votes, but due to the absence of the 2 MPs, they did not get enough votes. The re-election of the Chair and members of the CEC will be held in two weeks.

The “Concealment” of the Day

In a letter to Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili dated April 11, which surfaced in the media on April 16, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Michael O’Flaherty asks members of the Parliament “to refrain from adopting the so-called Foreign Agents’ law” and engage with the national and international partners on how best to ensure and to enable working environment for CSOs. The seriousness of the concerns expressed in the letter is underscored by the request that it be circulated to all members of Parliament. It appears, however, that the letter has not been circulated among the MPs.

Contrary to the Commissioner’s request to distribute the letter to all members of parliament, the Speaker apparently did not disclose the letter and was accused on April 16, during the parliamentary plenary session, by MP Ana Natsvlishivil from Lelo party of deliberately concealing it and lacking transparency.


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