Georgian parliament kills Russian-style bill that sparked mass protests

Georgian parliament kills Russian-style bill that sparked mass protests
Опубликовано: Friday, 10 March 2023 12:21

Crowds cheer in Tbilisi, after days of demonstrations that were violently dispersed.

TBILISI — Georgia’s parliament on Friday formally voted down the controversial Russian-style bill on foreign agents after several days of massive street protests in Tbilisi.

Crowds cheered at the entrance of the parliament, after learning that the bill had been killed. The vote will likely trigger disquiet in the Kremlin, where Russian President Vladimir Putin aims to keep former Soviet republics from turning toward Europe and the West.

“Having turned towards Europe, Georgia knows it can count on the friendship of France,” French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted minutes after the vote.

On Thursday, ruling Georgian Dream party officials pledged the bill would be revoked on March 21. But a plenary session was hurriedly scheduled for Friday after thousands continued to protest in the streets, waving EU flags and denouncing Russia, demanding the draft law be killed earlier.

“I’m proud of every person who came out, every single person who has expressed his or her will and European-ness,” said Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili on Thursday. She had backed the demonstrations since the beginning and had vowed to veto the bill.

The draft Foreign Agent law was voted down without discussion on Friday at the plenary session. Georgian Dream previously insisted that it was a necessary law guaranteeing transparency.

The bill, which would require civil organizations and media to register as foreign agents if more than 20 percent of their income came from abroad, was widely seen as an attempt to silence government critics and impose Russian-style control.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Moscow was not involved with the Georgian law. “Russia has nothing to do with it in essence or form. We do not interfere in internal Georgian affairs,” Peskov said, according to state media Ria Novosti.

Both EU and U.S. officials had warned that adoption of the bill would harm Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. Georgia applied for EU membership last March, but was not granted candidate status, and will have to implement several reforms first — including strengthening the independence of its judiciary.

Riot police dispersed protesters in Tbilisi with water cannons and tear gas.

Several thousand were demonstrating in Georgia against a controversial bill, widely believed to be aimed at silencing the Georgian government’s critics.

— POLITICOEurope (@POLITICOEurope) March 8, 2023

Protests were violently dispersed by riot police at the Georgian parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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