Georgia’s Interior Ministry said in a statement that police arrested more than sixty people in Tbilisi after Tuesday night’s demonstrations led to clashes with police. Demonstrators took to the streets after the House of Representatives voted in the first reading of the “Foreign Agents” law, a law similar, according to its critics, to the Russian agent law, and would similarly limit press freedom and limit freedoms. From Citizens, reports MTI.
In a statement, the Interior Ministry described the hours-long clashes as “extremely violent”, during which authorities used water cannons and tear gas against protesters and detained at least 66 people. According to information from the official Russian news agency, 50 policemen were also injured, some of whom need hospital treatment. Behind the dispute is a law voted on at the initiative of the ruling party called Grúz Álom, which states that
All organizations that obtain more than 20 percent of their operating costs from abroad must register as “foreign agents,” or they will be subject to heavy fines.
Earlier in Berlin, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibasvili said the measures against foreign clients “meet European and international standards” and added that the country’s future cannot and will not depend on foreign proxies and servers from other countries. Meanwhile, Head of State Salome Zurabishvili, who is currently on an official visit to the United States, said in a video message on Tuesday that he supports the protesters in Tbilisi, and indicated that he would veto the law if it were. to be signed.
According to its critics, the new legislation is reminiscent of Russian law, which has been used in the country ever since against opponents. According to the opposition, the Russian-style law represents an authoritarian turn and will reduce the country’s chances of joining the European Union. In addition to the law, protesters made sharp criticisms of Russia, anti-Russian slogans appeared on several banners, and Ukrainian flags were seen alongside Georgian and European flags. In any case, the solidarity is not surprising, Viktor Orban said in an interview last week that in addition to Ukraine, Putin is also disturbed by the idea of Georgia’s membership in NATO.
The law introducing the concept of a foreign agent in Russia was passed in 2012 to increase control of civil organizations, and in 2017 it was extended to the press as well. The law was later amended in 2020 and then in the summer of 2022. According to the latter, it is no longer a prerequisite for the “foreign agent” to receive funds directly from abroad, it is enough to attend a foreign seminar. By the way, last summer, in Hungary, it was suggested that Hungarian regulations inspired by Russian law should extend to the press as well.
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