As protests grow, the United Nations, EU, US and state of Georgia call on the state of Georgia to suspend the “foreign agent” bill | Protest News

Thousands of people gathered in Tbilisi to protest against the bill, which passed second reading in parliament this week.

The European Union, United Nations and United States passed a bill in Georgia’s parliament on “foreign agents” as thousands of demonstrators disrupted traffic in the country’s capital Tbilisi on Thursday in new large protests against the bill. criticized the bill.

Protesters poured into Heroes Square. Heroes’ Square is an important intersection where much of Tbilisi’s traffic passes between neighboring areas of the city. A long line of cars remained blocked.

“We are united to show the Kremlin’s puppets that we will not accept a government that goes against the wishes of the Georgian people,” said Giorgi Loradze, 27, a protester from Kutaisi, Georgia’s third largest city. ” he said.

The day before, tens of thousands of protesters had blocked off central Tbilisi in the largest anti-government rally to date. Police fired tear gas and stun grenades to remove some people.

The bill, which has been attacked by opponents as authoritarian and Kremlin-inspired, has completed two of three readings in parliament, with the latest comments coming from both Washington and Brussels. reflects caution about the future direction of the company.

The ruling Georgian Dream party says the law, which requires organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as agents of foreign influence, is necessary to ensure transparency.

The party’s billionaire founder said this week that Georgia must protect its sovereignty from Western authoritarian attempts.

Crowds have been protesting nightly in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi for weeks. Deputies clashed inside the building.

“We are deeply concerned.”

The standoff is part of a broader struggle that could determine whether Georgia, a country of 3.7 million people that has experienced war and revolution since the collapse of the Soviet Union, moves closer to Europe or returns to Moscow’s influence. It is believed that

Gerd Jan Koopmann, director of the European Commission’s Enlargement Directorate, reiterated the EU’s warning that the bill jeopardizes Georgia’s membership hopes.

“There are worrying developments regarding the law. This law…is unacceptable in its current state and will pose serious obstacles on the road to EU membership,” he told a news conference in Tbilisi.

“The ball is firmly in the government’s court,” Koopman said, adding there is still time to change course.

However, the government, which introduced a similar law last year but withdrew it in the face of protests, shows no signs of withdrawing it again, which could have a negative impact ahead of parliamentary elections in October.

A police officer leads demonstrators during a rally against the ‘foreign agents’ bill in Tbilisi, Georgia. [Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters]

United Nations rights chief Volker Turk on Thursday called on Georgia’s state government to withdraw the bill and expressed concern about police violence against demonstrators.

The White House also expressed concern Thursday that such a bill could have a chilling effect on Georgians’ ability to express themselves and express their intentions.

“We are deeply concerned about this bill and what it could do in terms of suppressing dissent and freedom of speech,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said at a briefing in the US. Is there one?”

Earlier, US Ambassador Robin Dunnigan said the Georgian government’s choices had “taken the country away from its Euro-Atlantic future” and urged it to recommit to integration with the West.

Dunnigan said in a statement that senior U.S. leaders had invited Georgia to discuss the issue, but the country did not accept the offer.

Britain, Italy and Germany have also criticized the bill.

Georgia’s parliament approved a second reading of the bill on Wednesday, but opposition parties say it is modeled on laws the Kremlin has used to crack down on dissent in Russia.

Thursday’s parliamentary debate was called off following what officials called an “attack” on Congress.

Georgian television on Thursday showed Tbilisi Mayor Kaka Karadze berating a reporter for questioning police actions during Wednesday’s protests, calling them “shameless cowards.”

Lawmakers are expected to give the bill a third and final reading in about two weeks.

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