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Tens of thousands rally in Tbilisi to protest Georgia's 'foreign agents' bill

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 11, 2024 11:14 PM 2 min read
Protesters march during a rally against the controversial "foreign influence" bill in Tbilisi on May 11, 2024. (Vano Shlamov / AFP via Getty Images)
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Around 50,000 protesters marched through Georgia's capital on May 11 in the latest of the series of demonstrations against the government's "foreign agents" bill, Deutsche Welle reported.

The bill, which is yet to be passed in its third and final reading, would require organizations that receive foreign funding to be labeled as "foreign agents."

The law mirrors repressive Russian legislation used to crack down on Kremlin regime critics, earning it the nickname "Russian law" by its opponents.

The protesters arrived at Europe Square and said they would spend the night from May 12 and 13 at the Georgian parliament building, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported.

Lawmakers are expected to discuss the bill in its third reading between May 13 and 14. The parliament, dominated by the ruling Georgian Dream party, has already passed the bill in the previous two readings.

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The fresh wave of protests came shortly after Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said the government would push ahead with the bill despite opposition.

The proposed law drew heavy criticism from both domestic opposition and civil society groups and from abroad.

"We are deeply alarmed about democratic backsliding in Georgia," U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.

"Georgian Parliamentarians face a critical choice - whether to support the Georgian people's EuroAtlantic aspirations or pass a Kremlin-style foreign agents' law that runs counter to democratic values."

The EU has also condemned the bill, and some members of the European Parliament called for the suspension of Georgia's EU candidate status.

Georgian government holds massive anti-West rally as it aims to pass ‘Russian-style’ law
TBILISI, Georgia – The ruling Georgian Dream party staged a massive rally in Tbilisi on April 29, with tens of thousands of people bussed in from around the country to support the country’s democratic backsliding. Party leaders, including Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladz…
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