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Thousands of people protest in Georgia against “Russian law”

The country’s capital has once again become the scene of protests against the government’s plan to contain “foreign influence” in NGOs and the media, according to the legislation in force in Russia. Tens of thousands of people left the country on Saturday (05/11). on the streets of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, to protest a bill on “foreign agents”, dubbed “Russian law” by critics, who see the new legislation as an offensive against the country’s civil society.

According to organizers, around 50,000 protesters took part in the march. Georgia’s red and white flags could be seen flying alongside the EU’s blue and yellow flags.

The bill, which was approved in a second vote in parliament this month, has been called a “Russian law” by critics because it contains similar points to legislation adopted in Russia in 2012 and then strengthened in 2022 following the invasion of ‘Ukraine by the Kremlin regime. In Russia, this legislation has been exploited to stifle civil society organizations and critics of the Kremlin.

If passed in a final vote, the law would require any NGO or media organization that receives more than 20% of its funding from abroad to be registered as an “organization pursuing the interests of a foreign power.”

Over the past month, several protests have been organized against the bill. The ruling Georgian Dream party abandoned the bill last year after protests and criticism, but decided to revive the legislation earlier this year.

On April 30, Georgian police dispersed a demonstration using tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets and made dozens of arrests.

The European Union, the United States and the United Nations have expressed opposition to the bill. The EU has warned that the proposed law could threaten Georgia’s chances of joining the bloc.

The ruling party defends the project

Saturday’s demonstration comes a day after Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said the government plans to proceed with the project despite objections from groups he described as “deceived youth.”

Kobakhidze and his Georgian Dream party argue that the bill will increase transparency on foreign funding of NGOs.

Last month, honorary president of the Georgian Dream and former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili gave a speech condemning NGOs, calling them “pseudo-elites nurtured by foreign countries.” He also blamed Western countries for Moscow’s 2008 invasion of Georgia and the war in Ukraine.

The ruling party has been accused of trying to bring the country closer to Russia after Georgia sought to cultivate relations with the West in recent years.

The Georgian Dream has stated that it intends to definitively approve the law by mid-May.

jps (AFP, Reuters)

Source: Terra

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