Who defended freedom of speech in Georgia? Video
Protesters in Georgia
The dates of March 7, 8 and 9 will go down in the history of Georgia, days when society managed to come together and force the authorities to withdraw the draft law “On Transparency of Foreign Influence”. It became known as the “Russian law” which, according to many NGOs, threatened the existence of civil society and independent journalism in the country.
It’s hard to estimate the total number of protesters; but at times even a hundred-thousand people may have been out in the streets. At first the protest was peaceful, but riot control police were sent to the parliament. For two nights in a row, March 7 and 8, tens of thousands of people were dispersed using tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon.
The use of force spurred protesters on even more, and many of those who watched what was happening on TV took to the streets. Despite suppression and arrests, the rallies did not subside, and on the morning of March 8, processions of women’s marches and other sympathizers joined the protesters.
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Who were they?
Journalists and political scientists who watched the rallies note that for the first time in a long time, the protest gathered many young people – students and high school students. Teenagers filled the streets, making it clear that they were not afraid of the police.
One symbol of protest was 16-year-old Georgian taekwondo champion Salome Kenchiashvili. The whole country knew her as the “girl in red pants” who deftly dodged water cannon jets.
Civil servants and people far from politics
For the first time in the last decade, the protests were joined by people who were considered dependent on the ruling party and therefore forced to show their loyalty to it – civil servants. So the woman with the EU flag, who became another symbol of the March protests, 47-year-old Nana Malashkhia, turned out to be an employee of the Tbilisi City Hall.
The number of those who considered the law unacceptable also grew on social networks – hundreds, if not thousands, of new posts with the hashtag #no to Russian law appeared. They were often published by ordinary people of various professions who had nothing to do with politics.
Flash mob of delivery couriers
One of the most memorable of these events was a flash mob of delivery couriers who marched through Europe Square in Tbilisi. They not only supported the European aspirations of Georgia, but also voiced the important shortcomings of labor legislation of Georgia, expressing the hope that European integration would help solve these problems.
Celebrities of sports and culture
Famous athletes Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Zaza Pachulia, Shota Arveladze actively shared posts on social networks; cultural figures Nino Katamadze, Nikoloz Rachveli, Lana Gogoberidze; academicians Mzekala Shanidze and Rismag Gordeziani, writer Naira Gelashvili and other notable people.
Protesters in Georgia
Supported by RLNE