Georgia withdraws ‘foreign agents’ bill after protests
Parliament gave its initial approval to the bill on Tuesday, but tens of thousands of protesters later gathered outside parliament and then again on Wednesday. Some protesters threw petrol bombs, rocks and plastic bottles at police.
At least one window in the Parliament building was smashed and a police car was overturned. Police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons to disperse the crowds, and said 77 people were arrested during Tuesday’s protest.
Opponents of the bill, including Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, who said she would use her veto if it crossed her office, compared it to a 2012 Russian law, which has been used to suppress dissent. The Georgian government says the legislation is modeled after US foreign agent laws, which have been in place since the 1930s.
The Georgian opposition has long criticized Georgian Dream for what it sees as excessive closeness to Moscow. Russia has backed separatists in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The bill had angered supporters of Georgia’s European Union membership, after EU officials condemned the bill and said it would complicate Georgia’s path to membership. block membership. Last year, the European Union refused to grant Georgia candidate status alongside Moldova and Ukraine, citing stalled political and judicial reforms.