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The Daily Beat: 28 April

On Sunday evening, thousands of citizens gathered in Tbilisi’s Republic Square for a mass rally organized jointly by youth groups, CSOs, and various political actors. Protesters called on the ruling Georgian Dream party to drop the law , pledging to blockade the parliament should they try to proceed with passing the law in the second reading. Late in the evening, demonstrators began marching toward Rustaveli Avenue, blocking the way again. Soon, the avenue was filled with tens of thousands of demonstrators, an unprecedented number of protesters in the last two weeks.

Riot police deployed at the parliament building were trying to secure the special stage and installations for the Georgian Dream rally set to be held on Monday. Around midnight, the situation between the demonstrators and the police escalated, and in the face of minor scuffles, tear gas was reportedly used. 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 Monday.

Aleksi Petriashvili, former State Minister for Euro-Atlantic Integration under the Georgian Dream government from 2012 to 2014 and currently a senior fellow at the Rondeli Foundation, was detained at the ongoing rally in front of the parliament, his colleagues and family confirm.

In a late-night statement on April 27, the Patriarchy of the Georgian Orthodox Church issued a sweeping endorsement of the ruling party’s policy proposals to curb activities of civil society groups and the queer community. The statement comes as the Parliament readies to endorse the highly controversial law on agents of foreign influence in its second reading. The statement argues that “the line of confrontation is now drawn on a field of combat against values and state sovereignty.”

On April 25, the Commission On Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), more known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, Chairman Joe Wilson and Ranking Member Steve Cohen issued a statement against the re-introduced Foreign Agents bill, urging the Georgian Government to “divert from this destructive path.” In its statement, the CSCE leadership notes: “It is appalling to see Georgia’s government so brazenly attack the will of its people and its relationship with the United States and the EU.”

On April 24, the President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Oliver Röpke, and the President of the EESC’s Section for External Relations, Dimitris Dimitriadisissued a statement expressing their “deep concern” over the reintroduced Foreign Agents Bill and calling on the Georgian authorities not to adopt it, stating that the draft-law “potentially jeopardizes the European future of Georgia as enshrined in the country’s Constitution.”

In the strongest U.S. response yet to the developments surrounding the reintroduction of the Foreign Agents Law, U.S. Senators Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Jeanne Shaheen, Chair of the Europe and Regional Security Cooperation Subcommittee, joined by 12 of their colleagues wrote a bi-partisan letter to Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze, expressingprofound concern” about the decision to re-table the law and warning him that if the legislation is passed the Senators “will be compelled to encourage a shift in U.S. policy toward Georgia.”

On April 26, six opposition parties – Girchi-More FreedomDroaAhaliUnited National MovementStrategy Aghmashenebeli, and the Republican Party – issuedjoint statement calling on civil servants not to participate in the April 29 rally organized by the ruling Georgian Dream party, despite the political pressure they may face from the ruling party. Instead, the opposition parties expressed their support for the April 28 march announced by the local CSOs and called on citizens to join them “to once again peacefully, clearly and loudly say yes to Europe and no to Russian law.”

The Data of the Day

According to data released by the National Statistics Office (Geostat), the migration from Georgia rose by 95.6% from the previous year, with 245,064 persons leaving the country. Meanwhile, immigration increased by 14.5% to 205,857 persons.

The majority of immigrants (75.9%) and emigrants (62.2%) were of working age (15-64 years old). Notably, 44.6% of immigrants and 66.7% of emigrants were Georgian citizens. Of the remaining immigrants, the majority were citizens of the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine, India, and Belarus.

The total population of Georgia, as of January 1, 2024, was estimated at 3,69 million people, reflecting a 1.1% decrease from the previous year. Notably, in 2023, there was a negative natural increase of – 2 542 and a negative net migration of -39 207.


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