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The Daily Beat: 6 May

Pro-EU rallies continued despite the Orthodox Easter holidays. On Saturday night, a few thousand protesters gathered at the Kashveti Church, just across the street from the parliament building, to attend the Easter vigil, once again blocking Rustaveli Avenue. Protesters brought and swapped red eggs and Easter cakes as part of the Easter tradition.

On Easter Monday, when Georgians commemorate the deceased, a group of protesters against the Foreign Agents Law gathered at Tbilisi’s Heroes’ Square memorial to honor the memory of those who gave their lives fighting for a united Georgia. In Georgia, May 6 is also St. George’s Day.

The 2024 Easter Epistle of Patriarch Ilia the II accentuated the need for unity and peace. He lamented the distraction of people from spiritual thoughts to earthly life due to recent “political processes” and called for unity out of “love for the homeland,” emphasizing the need to “live together peacefully” despite people’s differences.

On Easter Sunday, media outlets reported that Lado Apkhazava, a school teacher from the Western Georgian region of Guria and the winner of the National Teacher’s Award, and his son were attacked and physically assaulted by several men near his apartment in the town of Lanchkhuti. Apkhazava claims that he was targeted because of his publicly critical stance over the Foreign Agents Law and his participation in protest rallies. Police launched an investigation into the attack on a school teacher.

Another Georgian fighter, Soso Gugutashvili, was killed while fighting in Ukraine, the Georgian combat unit “Black Eagle” reported on May 5. The Foreign Ministry confirmed the information to Civil. ge. The latest casualty brings the unofficial death toll of Georgian citizens fighting in Ukraine against the Russian invasion to 48.

On May 4, at the meeting with the EU Ambassadors, President Salome Zurabishvili described the ruling Georgian Dream founder and honorary chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s speech at the April 29 counter-rally in support of the Foreign Agents Bill as “very provocative… towards you [EU], but also the Georgian population.” According to the President, Georgia is in a “tense” situation and, in this context, called on Ambassadors to encourage high-level visits from Europe in May as a busier period in Europe begins in June.

In a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze, European Council President Charles Michel expressed “EU’s full support to all Georgians who put the European future of their country first,” urging the Georgian leader not to miss a historic chance. Michel’s friendly warning fell on deaf ears, as the the Georgian readout of the same conversation states that PM Kobakhidze conveyed to the President of the European Council his “disappointment that despite numerous invitations, our partners have been reluctant to engage in substantive discussions on transparency law.”


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