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Zelensky says every Ukrainian wishes success to Georgia as protesters in Tbilisi storm parliament

by The Kyiv Independent news desk March 8, 2023 11:00 PM 2 min read
A protester waves the Georgian, Ukrainian, and European flags during a demonstration called by Georgian opposition and civil society groups outside Georgia's Parliament in Tbilisi on March 8, 2023. (VANO SHLAMOV/AFP via Getty Images)
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On a second day of mass protests against Russian-inspired "foreign agents" draft law, Georgian demonstrators tried to besiege the parliament after a call from one of the rally's organizers, according to local media outlet Interpressnews.

Thousands of demonstrators crowded on Tbilisi's central Rustaveli Avenue, where parliament is located, shouting "No to the Russian law," Reuters reported on March 8.

Some tried to dismantle metal barriers installed near the parliament and threw stones and other objects at the building's windows.

Riot police used water cannons, tear gas, and pepper spray to disperse the protesters, forcing them to retreat. Interpressnews reported injuries among the protesters but didn't specify how many people were wounded.

The protests erupted after the "foreign agents" draft law was passed in its first reading in Georgia's parliament on March 7. The law on "transparency of foreign influence" would require organizations that receive over 20% of funding from overseas to register as "foreign agents."

The law critics say it is similar to Russia's legislation, which was widely used to suppress dissent, and could harm Georgia's chances of joining the European Union.

Georgia's President, Salome Zourabichvili, said she supports the protesters and promised to veto the controversial law on "foreign agents," reports Mtavari.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the Georgian protesters who rallied with Ukrainian flags late on March 8, expressing "sincere respect for Georgia."

"There is no such Ukrainian who would not wish success to our friendly Georgia… We want to be in the European Union - and we will. We want Georgia to be in the European Union, and I am sure: it will be," Zelensky said in his evening address.

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