Georgia poised to adopt ‘Russian law’ despite mass protests

Georgia poised to adopt 'Russian law' despite mass protests
Georgia poised to adopt 'Russian law' despite mass protests

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said the bill will go to its third and final reading on Tuesday. Meanwhile, university students went on strike and led another major protest outside parliament.

Georgia’s prime minister has vowed to press forward with a controversial “foreign influence” law amid yet another wave of protests in Tbilisi.

“Tomorrow the Parliament of Georgia will act on the will of the majority of the population and pass the law in the third reading,” Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said in a televised address on Monday evening.

Kobakhidze claimed that if the bill was abandoned, then Georgia would be obliged to pass other laws, such as on “same-sex legalization” and on “uncontrolled immigration.”

The bill would require organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as agents of foreign influence. Critics have called it the “Russian law” for its similarities to a law that the Kremlin has used to crack down on independent media and human rights groups.

University students lead fresh protests

Georgia has seen major protests almost every night for more than a month.

On Monday, university students at a number of institutions announced a strike and led a march on the country’s parliament.

“We are planning to stay here for as long as it takes,” a 22-year-old student told the AFP news agency.

The crowds chanted “Georgia!” and waved both Georgian and European Union flags.

“When we have such a law, when we have such a government, there is no time for university,” another student, aged 19, told Reuters.

Hundreds of riot police were out in force at the parliament building.

Some of the clashed with protesters and made several arrests.

University students went on strike to protest the controversial law

What’s next for Georgia’s ‘foreign interference’ bill?

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili is at odds with the governing Georgian Dream party and has vowed to veto the law.

However, Georgian Dream has enough seats in parliament to override such a veto.

Protesters, the opposition, the EU and international rights groups have condemned the proposed law as undemocratic.

Georgia is officially a candidate to join the EU, however Brussels has indicated that the law could derail this membership process.

The European Union has expressed concern over the proposed law

On Monday, EU spokesperson Peter Stano praised Georgians’ “impressive commitment” to European integration and called on reported acts of violence to be investigated.

“We strongly condemn acts of intimidation, threats, and physical assaults against the protesters, against civil society activists, against politicians and against journalists and media workers,” he said.

Source: Dw

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