Foreign agents bill adopted in Georgia in first reading. Rally in Tbilisi dispersed with water cannons and tear gas
Foreign agents bill adopted in first reading
The Georgian Parliament passed the first reading of a bill labeling non-governmental organizations and some media “agents of foreign influence”. 76 MPs supported the bill, and only 13 voted against it. The discussion of the scandalous bill had begun unexpectedly today, after the Georgian Dream deputies had decided to go back on the plan for it to be discussed on March 9.
A large-scale protest action is now taking place outside the building of the Georgian parliament on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi. The police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds.
At a briefing at the office of the ruling Georgian Dream party, party leader Irakli Kobakhidze said that there had been no attempt to disperse the rally, but that, if needed, law enforcement would take all necessary actions. According to Kobakhidze, the bill is aimed only at the financial transparency of non-governmental organizations and the media.
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Earlier, the American embassy in Georgia had issued a statement, condemning the bill.
“Today is a dark day for Georgia’s democracy. Parliament’s advancing of these Kremlin-inspired laws is incompatible with the people of Georgia’s clear desire for European integration and its democratic development. Pursuing these laws will damage Georgia’s relations with its strategic partners and undermine the important work of so many Georgian organizations working to help their fellow citizens. The process and the draft laws raise real questions about the ruling party’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration,” the US Embassy in Georgia said in a statement.