Georgia Protesters Reject Russian Law, Demand European Future | Update on Protests

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The Georgian capital of Tbilisi has been filled with protesters for over two weeks, challenging the government’s draft law that targets civil society. The proposed law would require non-profit entities receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as “organisations pursuing the interest of a foreign influence”, with penalties up to $9,000 for noncompliance.

The demonstrators, mostly young people, believe that the government is under the influence of Russia and is hindering Georgia’s aspirations to be a part of Europe. The protests, which begin each night with the Georgian and EU national anthems, have gained momentum and support.

The EU and the US have expressed concerns over the law, with Ursula von der Leyen warning that Georgia is at a critical juncture. The US government has invited Georgia’s prime minister for high-level talks, but the invitation was declined. The government has accused NGOs of trying to instigate a revolution with foreign support.

Parallel to the foreign funding law, the government has been pushing for amendments that curb LGBT rights and make it easier to move money from overseas to Georgia. This has raised suspicions of the government’s intentions to create a safe haven for Russian oligarchs.

As protests continue, clashes with police have occurred, with reports of hired thugs and unidentified police officers using violence against protesters. The country remains deeply divided, with opposition parties struggling to unite against the ruling party.

The government is set to pass the law on foreign agents in a third reading, but the future remains uncertain as tensions rise in the lead-up to the general election in October. The protesters vow to continue their fight against what they see as a repressive law.

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