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Georgians are protesting en masse against the “Russian law”. “We don't want there to be such a law in our country”

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Georgia at a political crossroads: will there be a continuation of the course of integration with Europe or rather a turn towards Russian standards? The government in Tbilisi is pushing through a law on so-called foreign agents. This is a copy of Russian laws aimed at suppressing the voice of civil society. Georgians are demonstrating their opposition by taking to the streets en masse.

The dream of the protesting Georgians is integration with Europe, but the Georgian Dream – i.e. the ruling party – is taking an autocratic course.

– The passage of this bill basically formalizes the fact that Georgia is no longer heading towards the European Union. Georgia will pretend to be some kind of sovereign democracy, according to Putin's manual, which is an autocrat's manual, says Irakli Kadaidze, former president of the National Bank of Georgia and a participant in demonstrations taking place in the country against the introduction of the law on so-called foreign agents.

Protests in GeorgiaReuters

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The “Russian law” on foreign agents was passed in Georgia

The ruling majority passed the law on the transparency of foreign influence in parliament. Thousands of Georgians simply call it the “Russian Act” because it is a copy of the regulations on so-called foreign agents that the Kremlin has implemented at home. – We do not want such a law to exist in our country. This offends us. We do not want to follow the same path as Russia, where no one can express their opinion and people are arrested for holding blank cards, says Tamar Kurashvili, a participant of the demonstration.

SEE ALSO: Another protest in Georgia against the “foreign agents” law. The police used pepper spray

In Georgia, the authorities are also arresting protesters who have been demonstrating every day since Monday in front of the parliament and government buildings. According to the organizers, the largest protest took place last night. 20,000 people were supposed to take to the streets of Tbilisi. The nerves were loose. There were scuffles and clashes with the police. The president of Georgia, who is in opposition to the government, announced that she would veto the regulations.

20,000 people took to the streets of Tbilisi

– There are many young people on the streets saying what they want for this country, and my veto is their vote – comments Salome Zurabishvili, president of Georgia. But the government has a majority in parliament to override this veto. The regulations provide that if non-governmental organizations receive at least 20 percent of their funding from abroad, they will automatically be added to the register of agents of foreign influence and will be subject to special control. On the basis of such regulations, for example, the Memorial Association – an organization that received the Nobel Peace Prize two years ago – was banned in Russia.

SEE ALSO: The President of Georgia announces her veto against the law on foreign agents

Georgians against "pro-Russian" setting

Georgians against the “pro-Russian” billJustyna Zuber/Fakty o Świecie TVN24 BiS

– It's hard to say what will happen because this government is unpredictable, unreliable, deceitful and cynical. They are testing us to see how many days we can survive protesting, says Paata Sabelashvili, a participant in the demonstration. The Georgian government is also determined. There were attempts to introduce these regulations a year ago. Then, under pressure from citizens, the government withdrew. The bill returned to parliament a few weeks ago, arousing great emotion.

The new regulations may prevent a possible change of government

And the authorities remain deaf to the appeals of the European Union, the United States and the United Nations to refrain from further proceedings. – They claim that this law is contrary to the values ​​of the European Union. In which part? Which point of the Act? Why? No arguments. Therefore, in such a situation, these statements will not result in changing our decision, comments Irakli Kobachidze, Prime Minister of Georgia. The bill still needs to pass two more readings in parliament, but the government may rush to adopt the regulations to prevent a possible change of power, because parliamentary elections will be held in Georgia in October.

Author:Przemysław Kaleta

Main photo source: Reuters

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