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Citizens Confront GD MPs Following Adoption of Foreign Agents’ Law

After Georgian Dream MPs voted on May 28 to overturn the veto on the Foreign Agents Law and then voted to officially pass the law, they have been confronted by angry citizens, opposing the law. Several cases of citizens writing on the walls of GD MPs’ houses and calling them “slaves” and “traitors” in public have been observed.

One of the most talked- about encounters involved of GD MP Viktor Japaridze and took place on May 29, the day after the law was passed. Japaridze was driving with another GD MP when a young man on the street called him a “slave” and gave him the middle finger. Japaridze quickly became angry, got out of the car, cursed the man and grabbing an orange from a nearby fruit and vegetable stand chased the young man down the street. The orange didn’t reach its target, but instead turned into a sort of a symbol.

Viktor Japaridze then went to the small family-owned shop where he had taken the orange to, as he said, apologize and pay for it. The owners of the store, a husband and wife appeared to be staunch opponents of the law and took the time to remind Japaridze that he had taken away their children’s European future. The husband emphasized that organizations that help Georgians in various spheres and their donors, who have invested millions in Georgia’s development, should not be identified as “agents” and stressed that this was a Russian move. The deputy looking rather weak in the argument, appeared to have no arguments to answer the citizens’ demands. The video has gone viral in Georgia, with the original video reaching 1.5 million views and resulting in many memes featuring an orange. The couple’s store, meanwhile, became very popular, selling the produce overnight as many grateful citizens stopped by to support the local business.

Another GD MP, Eliso Bolkvadze, had to “endure” the anger of citizens at the Paris airport. Some women confronted the MP and asked her why she was traveling to the “country of agents”, to the place where “agents in Georgia are financed from” and why she was not traveling to Russia, calling her “Slave” and advising her to “go to Moscow”. Bolkvadze became very angry, called one of the women an “idiot” and threatened to call the police on them.

The citizens have also left writings on the walls of the houses of GD MPs. As of now, there are writings on the walls of the houses of Dimitri (Dito) Samkharadze, Eliso Bolkvadze, Anzor Bolkvadze. The writings are similar, most often they call the MPs “slaves” and “traitors”.

Terror Campaign Against Agents’ Law Opponents Resumed

Meanwhile, after a short break, the orchestrated campaign against the anti-Foreign Agents law demonstrators has resumed. On May 31, citizens began to report receiving threatening phone calls again, and the walls of the offices of NGOs, critical media and opposition parties, including European Georgia, Droa, Girchi-More Freedom, UNM, Lelo were again covered with obscenities and writings calling the people working there “foreign agents,” and with obscenities.

Since the beginning of the protests against the Foreign Agents Law, there have been multiple attempts by still unidentified perpetrators to intimidate the protesters, using methods such as life-threatening phone calls, beatings and affixing posters at the entrance of their homes or offices, with pictures of activists, NGO leaders, and politicians, with writings on the posters calling these persons “agents” and “enemies of the state”. These actions appear to be part of a well-organized campaign of intimidation against opponents of the GD, allegedly with the involvement of state structures, which has included ambushes and beatings of activists and opposition leaders by police and allegedly government-paid thugs. In addition, up to 200 protesters have been summoned to court, mostly on administrative charges, but some on criminal charges, in connection with their participation in protest rallies, which has been perceived as persecution and an attempt to intimidate activists and protesters.

Meanwhile, the European Integration Committee Chair of the Parliament, GD MP Maka Botchorishvili, spoke about the confrontations during an interview with Deutsche Welle. Completely ignoring the issue of the organized terror campaign and persecution against citizens, media, CSOs and opposition representatives, Botchorishvili noted that the protests against the law were “quite aggressive”, adding that “there is no justification for [the demonstrators’] violent acts”, and stated that there was “pressure” on ruling party MPs as people call them “slaves and traitors,” which she said was “completely abnormal.”

More to follow…

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