Georgian police disperse crowd protesting foreign agent law by using water cannon, tear-gas

Streaming HUBMarch 9, 2023

Police in Georgia’s capital used water cannons and tear-gas to disperse protesters around the parliament building late on Wednesday who were protesting a draft law they say violates media freedom and Can affect civil society.

Lawmakers on Tuesday approved the first reading of proposed legislation that would require media and non-governmental organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as “agents of foreign influence”. Following the approval, more than 60 protesters were arrested outside the parliament in Tbilisi.

The measure is similar to one enacted in Russia in 2012 that has been used to shut down or discredit organizations critical of the government. Opponents see this as potentially hindering Georgia’s stated intention to one day join NATO and the European Union.

Maria Kaljurand, a member of the European Parliament, and Sven Mikser, the top figure in relations with Georgia, said in a statement the draft law “goes directly against the stated ambition of the Georgian authorities to obtain candidate status for EU membership”. “

Georgians protest against the draft law on media

Georgian police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse a crowd protesting the foreign agent law.

Georgian police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse a crowd protesting the foreign agent law.

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“Under the guise of promoting transparency, the new law aims to stigmatize the work of civil society organizations and the media,” the statement said.

Protest leaders called on protesters on Wednesday to prevent members of parliament from returning to the building until the measure was withdrawn.

It was to be discussed on Thursday, but local media reported that the debate had been postponed. Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Wednesday asked for the measure to be evaluated by the Vienna Commission on Constitutional Law of the Council of Europe, the continent’s main human rights body.

While the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, has said she will veto the bill, its authors say it is needed for transparency in the work of entities funded by representatives of foreign states. Parliament can override the veto of the President.

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