Protest against foreign agent bill underway in Tbilisi

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Several thousand people have taken to the streets of the Georgian capital to protest against the bill on foreign agents, a TASS correspondent reported from Tbilisi.

The demonstration organized by the opposition started at 7:00 p.m. local time from three downtown locations places, namely First Republic Square near the Georgian parliament, from Marjanishvili Square and 300 Aragveli metro station. Another large group of people joined them at Marjanishvili Square. They headed towards Europe Square.

On May 1, Georgia’s parliament passed the second reading of the bill On the Transparency of Foreign Influence, which had been opposed by President Salome Zourabichvili, the opposition and Western diplomats, who see it as an obstacle to Georgia’s integration into the European Union. The US Department of State said that the purpose of the bill was to undermine the country’s active civil society. The leaders of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party argue that the law only serves the purpose of transparency of foreign funding of the non-governmental sector and media.

The opposition and civil activists have been holding rallies against the bill in Tbilisi since April 15. Several times clashes between the protesters and law enforcement forces erupted, when riot police used pepper spray and water cannons to disperse protesters outside the Georgian parliament. The bill is expected to pass its third reading next week.

Source: Xinhua

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