In Georgia, Parliament voted in favor of a controversial law, while thousands of demonstrators protested

In Georgia, Parliament voted in favor of a controversial law, while thousands of demonstrators protested

Thousands of Georgians continued to demonstrate in Tbilisi on the evening of Tuesday, April 16, after the first vote in Parliament in favor of a controversial bill on… “foreign agents”which had already been the cause of widespread demonstrations in 2023. Representatives adopted a first version of the bill by a majority of 78 votes to 25, allowing the legislative process to continue.

“No to Russian law!” »Several thousand demonstrators gathered in the center of the capital, in front of Parliament, chanted when it began studying the text. An Agence France-Presse journalist noted that the crowd closed one of the city's main arteries, while riot police secured the entrances to the building. The Georgian Interior Ministry said in a statement that a police officer was injured. He called on the demonstrators to “Stop their illegal actions”.

Opponents of the text saw, at the beginning of the rally, that the text was anti-freedom and could be compared to Russian legislation that the Kremlin has used for years to persecute opposing voices. The country's President Salome Zurabishbili – in conflict with the ruling Georgian Dream party, which has a majority in parliament and should be able to adopt the text – condemned this text, calling it “Georgian law.” “Contrary to the will of the people”. According to her opinion, “This is a direct provocation, a Russian destabilization strategy.”.

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Brussels said the law “will keep Georgia out of the European Union.”

If adopted, the text stipulates that organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad will be obliged to register as an organization.“An organization that pursues the interests of a foreign power”, under penalty of fines. The government confirms that this law will bring more “Transparency” In funding organizations, but its critics fear it will be used as a tool to suppress NGOs and independent media.

On Monday evening, about 10,000 people had already demonstrated against this bill, and police arrested fourteen people during this rally. Clashes occurred between members of the government and the opposition in Georgia on Monday while exchanging opinions over the text, sparking a general battle in the Council.

Read also | The material is reserved for our subscribers In Georgia, the controversial draft law on foreign agents returns

The European Union, which Georgia seeks to join, called for abandoning the text, saying that it conflicts with the reform program that the country must undertake to advance on the path to membership. Current invoice “It will push Georgia away from the European Union rather than closer to it.”he said Tuesday onPresident of the European Council Charles Michel.

The first version of the bill was abandoned in March 2023 after massive protest demonstrations dispersed by police with tear gas and water cannons.

The world with Agence France-Presse

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