Georgian parliament votes down ‘foreign agents’ bill after massive rallies
Georgian parliament votes down ‘foreign agents’ bill after massive rallies (Photo:Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters)
Georgia’s parliament voted against a ‘foreign agents bill’ critics have said resembles repressive legislation in Russia, in an extraordinary session on March 10 after massive rallies in Tbilisi and other cities broke out in opposition to the bill, Georgian TV channel Mtavari Arhi reported.
Georgia MPs voted 35-1 to repeal the law. The only MP to vote in favor of the bill was David Samkhardze, a leader of Georgia’s ruling Dream Party.
Georgia’s opposition went to the parliamentary tribune with flags of Georgia and the EU to celebrate the results.
Protesters also celebrated the vote near the parliament building in Tbilisi.
Rallies in Georgia
Rallies began in Georgia on March 7 after the controversial legislation was passed by parliament on its first reading.
The law would have obliged any organization receiving 20% or more of its funding from abroad to register as a 'foreign agent' or face fines — an almost exact copy of a similar law in Russia used to repress the functioning of civil society and non-governmental organizations.
The opposition claimed the law would be used to 'prepare' for Georgia’s upcoming election to "secure the existing regime."
Thousands of Georgians went out to protest the decision. Police used tear gas and water cannons to try to quell the protesters.
Later, demonstrators attempted to storm the parliament, but were driven back by security forces.
Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili sided with protesters and spoke out against the 'foreign agents' bill.
Police detained and opened cases against 66 people in Tbilisi connected to the mass rally.
Georgians, however, were undeterred, and protests resumed on March 8. Thousands of people once more swelled the streets of Tbilisi and other Georgian cities.
In addition, Protesters stormed the parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue in the center of the Georgian capital, and set up barricades.
Police used tear gas and water cannons to try to suppress the protesters, while dodging stones hurled in their direction as cars burned in the distance. After the initial protests were dispersed, the protesters gathered again.
Rally members demanded the cancellation of the bill and the release of all those detained during the rally.
Both demands were satisfied upon two days of protests.
The opposition then announced new demands, namely the resignation of the government and new, snap elections.
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