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Georgians protest against Russian influence and “foreign agent” bill ahead of final voting

More than 50,000 demonstrators flooded the streets of Tbilisi on May 11, opposing the “foreign agent” bill that could curtail freedom of speech and bolster Russian influence in Georgia.
Protest in Georgia, 1 May 2024.
Protest against a bill on “foreign agents”, in Tbilisi, Georgia, 1 May 2024. Credit: Irakli Gedenidze, Reuters
Georgians protest against Russian influence and “foreign agent” bill ahead of final voting

On 11 May, more than 50,000 demonstrators gathered in Tbilisi to protest against the “foreign agent” bill that will limit freedom in Georgia and strengthen the Russian influence in the country, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said. 

The law will make it obligatory for any media or nonprofit organization that receives more than 20% of its funding from abroad to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power.” Failure to do so would result in fines. Georgian opponents of the bill have dubbed it “the Russian law”, comparing it to legislation used to target critics of President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, according to Reuters. 

Thousands of Georgians are criticizing the law and are protesting against it, which they consider will undermine Georgia’s bid for Euro-Atlantic integration. For the final approval of the bill, the third reading is required, which is scheduled for 13 May. The protesters plan to stay in the streets until the date. 

Western officials have praised the rallies in Georgia opposing “the Russian law.”

“The Georgian people are making their views known. Undeterred by intimidation tactics, tens of thousands of peaceful protestors turned out in rainy Tbilisi today to demand Georgian Dream withdraw the legislation,” US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on social media. 

Recently, the US Embassy announced that Jim O’Brien, the US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, will visit the Georgian capital, along with the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, between 14 -17 May.

The protesters urge the government to hear people in Georgia. They say they see the future of Georgia with the European Union and not Russia. 

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