Live Blog: ‘Yes to Europe, No to Russian Law’ – Rallies Against Foreign Agents Bill

Since the reintroduction of the draft law on Foreign Agents, the streets of Tbilisi have been taken over by continuous mass rallies under the slogan “Yes to Europe, No to Russian Law”, some of which have spontaneous, without the organizers announcing the rallies beforehand.

Large numbers of young people – schoolchildren, students, young adults – have been gathering and blocking Rustaveli Avenue (where the Georgian parliament is located) for several days in a row. The young Georgians have continued to rally every day, even taking a solemn oath to defend Georgia’s European choice.

On April 3, the parliamentary majority leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, announced the reintroduction of the draft law on foreign agents, which was dropped last year after the massive rallies on March 7-9. According to Mdinaradze, the content of the bill remains the same, the only change is in the title: the word “agent” in it has been removed and the title has been replaced with “Organization Pursuing the Interests of a Foreign Power”. The decision has drawn sharp criticism from the civil society and opposition within the country and from Georgia’s international partners. The bill has already been passed in the first hearing.

What began as protests solely against the Foreign Agents Law has now taken on a wider dimension, with demonstrators also protesting against recent amendments to the Tax Code and a Russian FSB-linked conference held at the Tbilisi Palace Hotel.

Live Blog (All times are local):

Wednesday, June 5

Sunday, June 2

Concert at the Republic square: Photo Rusudan Chanturia
Concert at the Republic square: Photo Rusudan Chanturia

Friday, May 31

Photo: Guram Muradov/
Photo: Guram Muradov/
Photo: Guram Muradov/
Photo: Guram Muradov/

Tuesday, May 28

Photo: Giorgi Ekseulidze

Sunday, May 26

River of people on Chavchavadze ave; Photo: Guram Muradov/
Source: Georgisches Zentrum im Ausland
Michael Roth, Chair of the Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee, Source: Georgisches Zentrum im Ausland

Saturday, May 25

Photo: Zurab Tsertsvadze
Photo: Zurab Tsertsvadze

Friday, May 24

Photo by Ezz Gaber Photography

Tuesday, May 21

Monday, May 20

The shirt features iconic image current protests of police vs protesters, Photo: Nini Gabritchidze/
This shirt features the image of the 1st President of Georgia Zviad Gamsakhurdia, Photo: Nini Gabritchidze/
Another student in a graduation shirt featuring one more iconic image, Photo: Nini Gabritchidze/
The poster says: Our [school] bell will never ring in Russia! Photo: Nini Gabritchidze/

Sunday, May 19

Photo: Vano Gorgiashvili
Photo: Vano Gorgiashvili

Saturday, May 18

Protesters block Rustaveli ave. on May 18, Photo: Nini Gabritchidze/

Thursday, May 16

Wednesday, May 15

Latvian Foreign Minister Baiba Braže on Rustaveli Avenue during a protest against the foreign agents law; Photo: Guram Muradov/
The foreign ministers of Estonia, Iceland and Lithuania: Margus Tsahkna, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir and Gabrielius Landsbergis on Rustaveli Avenue during a protest against the Foreign Agents Law; Photo: Giorgi Zhamerashvili

Tuesday, May 14

Blocked Mtkvari river bank, Photo: N. Gabritchidze
Heroes Square, Photo: G. Kobakhdize
Police mobilization near the Parliament, May 14, Photo: G. Kelbakiani/
Water cannons on Freedom Square, May 14, Photo: G. Kelbakiani/

Monday, May 13

Students at Kutaisi Akaki Tsereteli State University announce they are joining a country-wide academic boycott. May 13, 2024. Photo: Iliko Natsvaladze

Sunday-Monday, May 12-13

Police mobilized on Chitadze St., back of the Parliament building. Guram Muradov/
Police and water cannons mobilized on Liberty Square. Gigi Kobakhidze/
Source: TV Pirveli

Saturday, May 11

Europe’s square on the evening of May 11, Photo: Guram Muradov/
Rally participants gather at one of the four locations in Tbilisi, May 11, Photo: Mari Imerlishivli/
Protesters go down the Rustaveli avenue: Photo: Giorgi Kelbakiani,

Friday, May 10

Rally in Gori

Wednesday, May 8

Protesters bring in GD leaders’ effigies, Photo: Nini Gabritchidze,
Protesters cover Soviet symbolics with EU and NATO flag stickers , Photo: Nini Gabritchidze,

Tuesday, May 7

Monday, May 6

Saturday, May 4

Friday, May 3

Protest Rally near the Paragraph Hotel, May 4, Photo: Muro Takalandze

Thursday, May 2

Photo: Guram Muradov/

Wednesday, May 1

Tuesday, April 30

After the GD organized so-called counter rally, which mobilized people from Georgian provinces who were bussed to Tbilisi, which announced repressions against the “collective” UNM and opponents, and was infused with anti-Western messages, the anti-foreign agents law protest rally resumed with new impetus at 19:00 local time. Massive mobilization of law enforcers is observed near the Parliament building. By approximately 21:00 the police closed the streets on the left and right-hand side of the Parliament. The demonstrators tried to block the entrance of the Parliament building to prevent the GD MPs from leaving.

At around this time the Interior Ministry issued statement saying that “the law enforcement officers are mobilized to ensure the safety of all citizens.” The statement also said that “Employees of various departments of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in order to ensure the safe exit of the deputies and employees of the Parliament from the building and to avoid artificial escalation of the events, are at the entrances of the legislative body and call upon the gathered people to leave the entrances and exits of the Parliament building.” The MIA warned that “any violation of the law will be dealt with in accordance with the law.”

Part of demonstrators went to the Government Administration building.

The situation became tense at around 21:45 by the back entrance of the Parliament with riot police using pepper spray without prior warning.

Riot police brutality continued, with dozens of demonstrators injured, many cornered and beaten by law enforcement. According to a correspondent on the scene, the riot police used pepper spray and tear gas on the demonstrators. There is reportedly shortage of ambulances at the site. At 22:20, the Ministry of Interior issued another statement, noting that despite calls for the demonstrators to leave the premises, they didn’t do so, and “in order to restore law and order, the Ministry of Interior used legally established special means”. The MIA reiterated calls “to political leaders, organizers and participants of the rally not to exceed the norms of assembly and demonstration established by law.”

The riot police without in black, without visibly identifiable police badges were lashing out from the ranks of the riot police trying to snatch individual protesters and cracked down on protesters several times throughout the evening, using water cannons, pepper spray and tear gas. This was followed by the riot police carrying out a special operation on Rustaveli Avenue, forcing the protesters off the avenue.

Closer to midnight MIA issued another statement saying that “the protest of the participants of the rally on Rustaveli Avenue…went beyond the scope established by the law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and took on a violent character.” MIA said that “despite numerous appeals by the police, they do not comply with the legal demands of the law enforcement officers” and “confront the law enforcement officers verbally and physically, and also throw various objects in their direction.”
Thus the MIA said, it is starting to “implement the measure stipulated by the law in order to restore public order.”

Despite the special forces detachment’s brutal attempts to break up the protest, using every means at their disposal, including pepper spray, tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, people continue to remain on Rustaveli Avenue, and even more are gathering there. At around 1 a.m., the riot police resumed their efforts to disperse the protest, again using gas and water cannons.

At 12:42, President Salome Zurabishvili issued a statement calling on the MIA to immediately stop breaking up the peaceful protests with “disproportionate use of force, violence against young people who come with bare hands”. The President appealed to the Public Defender to respond immediately to the ongoing violence and demand an end to “all unfounded and inappropriate actions of the special forces.”

Human Rights watchdogs Transparency International-Georgia and Georgian Young Lawyers Association issued separate statements saying that the law enforcers used disproportionate force against the protesters and calling on relevant authorities to investigate.

The Ombudsman of Georgia released a statement assessing the use of force against the demonstrators by the law-enforcers as disproportionate and calling on the investigative bodies “o conduct an effective investigation into the facts of the use of disproportionate force.

The rally continued into the late morning hours. The riot police left the scene before the demonstrators at around 5 a.m. The MIA held a briefing at 10 a.m. on May 1, announcing that 63 peaceful demonstrators had been detained yesterday and that 6 police officers had allegedly been injured. Among those detained is a U.S. citizen Ted Jonas, a lawyer working for Anaklia Development Consortium LLC. He was also severely beaten by the police. The leader of the main opposition UNM party, Levan Khabeishvili, was severely beaten and injured by police. He had to be taken to hospital.

Monday, April 29

Several dozen demonstrators gathered at the back entrance of the Parliament building in the morning to protest against the Agent Law as the Legal Issues Committee began its second hearing on the controversial law.

Sunday, April 28

Thousands of citizens gathered in Tbilisi’s Republic Square from 19:00 for a mass rally organized by over 100 civil society and media organizations. National and European anthems were played. Speakers addressed the crowd. Around 21:00, the demonstrators began marching toward Rustaveli Avenue, once again blocking the way. Soon the avenue was filled with tens of thousands of demonstrators, an unprecedented number of protesters so far in the last two weeks.

The massive rally comes ahead of the ruling majority’s upcoming vote on the controversial law in its second reading next week, alongside a counter-rally organized by the GD scheduled for tomorrow.

Speakers delivered the statement of the rally organizers, calling on the government not to schedule the plenary session for the second reading of the law tomorrow, as many expect. They emphasized that if the government proceeds with scheduling the second reading tomorrow, they have a plan and special locations to mobilize people against it.

Around midnight, as more and more people mobilized in front of the Parliament, where a special stage had been prepared for the GD rally, there were demands to allow some youth to enter the stage and raise EU and Georgian flags, and the situation between the demonstrators and the police escalated. The Georgian MIA issued a statement calling on the activists “not to damage the inventory and equipment of the stage set up on Rustaveli Avenue in front of the legislature” Tear gas was reportedly used.

Riot police has been deployed at the Parliament. The MIA issued another statement saying that “the protest took a violent turn” with “demonstrators physically and verbally confronting law enforcement” and “attempting to break through the police cordon. The MIA mentioned that the police used “special means” to restore order. The riot police is now calling the remaining protesters to clear off.

Police used pepper spray during the standoff.

At midnight, the Tbilisi municipality office issued a statement saying that on 22 April, the Georgian Dream party had sent a letter to the Tbilisi municipality regarding the public rally planned for 29 April on Rustaveli Avenue. The statement noted that “due to the size of the gathering, the organizers planned to start preparations three days earlier and asked for various measures required by law to be taken.”

The statement said that “the gathering of the rally participants, who are now in the vicinity of the parliament, is unauthorized” and called on the participants “to refrain from provocations and give the organizers of the event planned for April 29 the opportunity to carry out their work”.

The Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA) called on the MIA not to use special means against peaceful demonstrators and not to use riot police, stressing that there is no legal basis for a violent dispersal of the demonstration. “Publicly released footage shows that special forces are positioned at three exits of the demonstration area (from Chitadze, Chichinadze, and Liberty Square onto Rustaveli Avenue)” the statement reads noting that “they are equipped with special gas masks.” GYLA says this raises concerns “that the Ministry of Interior Affairs plans to use active special means, including tear gas. The footage also shows water cannon trucks. “We urge the Ministry of Interior Affairs not to use active special means against peaceful demonstrators and not to use them in their usual unlawful practice, such as at close range, targeting vital organs, and using multiple active special means simultaneously,” GYLA statement read.

Alexi (Buka) Petriashvili, former State Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration (in 2012-2014 in the GD government) was detained by police, MIA has confirmed to news outlet Publika. He’s been detained on administrative charges, under the Art. 166 (petty hooliganism) and Art. 173 (resisting the police).

The Public Defender made a statement shortly after midnight emphasizing that interference with the freedom of assembly is permissible only if the action takes a violent and/or illegal nature, “in which case the termination of the assembly by the authorities should be used as a last resort and the use of force within the mentioned framework should meet the strict test of necessity and proportionality.” The Ombudsman’s statement said that “as of April 29, 00:30 there is no prerequisite for stopping the assembly and the rally is peaceful, therefore the Public Defender appeals to the Ministry of Internal Affairs not to use force against the peaceful participants of the assembly” and allow protesters to enjoy their rights guaranteed by the constitution.

Thursday, April 25

The protests against the Foreign Agents Law started at 19:00. The demonstrators marched from the Parliament to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Administration. The protests ended at Rustaveli Avenue, where the demonstrators again blocked the street, but after the police demanded to move away from the street, they continued their protests in front of the Parliament.

Wednesday, April 24

22:00-Protests against the Foreign Agents bill continues for the tenth day in a row. Protesters again block Rustaveli Avenue, defying police warnings earlier in the day. Claiming that the number of people at the rallies was “significantly decreasing” and citing Georgian laws, police warned of a “legal response.” Protesters are marching towards the Europe square.

Later, Lazare Grigoriadis, who had been released from prison earlier in the day after a Presidential pardon, joined those demonstrators who were back at the Parliament on Rustaveli Avenue.

Tuesday, April 23

Popular protests against the reintroduced Foreign Agents Law continued for the ninth day in a row. aT 19:00 citizens of all generations gathered in front of the Georgian Parliament and marched to the EU Delegation office. On their way, the demonstrators came across with ruling GD’s spin-off People’s Power MP Davit Kacharava and confronted him about the bill.

To be updated…

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