In Tbilisi, near the parliament building, a rally began against the adoption of the laws “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” and “On the Registration of Foreign Agents,” the police are gathering at the temple opposite, and the central Rustaveli Avenue is blocked. Also, people in Batumi are going to the rally. Bars in Tbilisi have begun posting announcements that they will open late today as workers go to protest in front of the parliament. “Friends, today we will probably open at 10 am. Until then, let's all go to Parliament! In order not to drink "Russian Standard" and "Green Mark" in the future. This applies to everyone!” - says the Meoba bar page.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia issued a statement warning the organizers and leaders of the rally on Rustaveli Avenue about the inadmissibility of calls for violence and the need to ensure that the action does not take on a violent character. On March 3, 36 people were detained at a rally against the “foreign agency law”, when the Ministry of Internal Affairs made the same statement.
The law suddenly began to be discussed at today's plenary meeting, despite the fact that the discussion was scheduled for March 9. The proposal not to wait was put forward by the leader of the parliamentary majority Mamuka Mdinaradze right during the meeting, the chairman of the parliament supported the idea. At the same time, according to NEWSGEORGIA, the discussion began without much opposition. Deputy Roman Gotsiridze called it "procedural fraud", saying that it was done on purpose in order to "discuss the bill in a half-empty hall."
The bills were initiated by deputies from the Power of the People movement, which is part of the parliamentary majority with the ruling Georgian Dream party. They involve the creation of a register of media and non-governmental organizations that are financed from abroad by more than 20%. Supporters of the bills believe that the new laws will help protect the sovereignty of the country, opponents fear that they will interfere with Georgia's European integration, and also remind that in Russia such a law has led to the persecution of both journalists and people simply objectionable to the authorities.
An analogue of the Russian law “on foreign agents” is actively supported by representatives of the ultra-conservative nationalist Internet platform Alt-Info (Alt-Info), associated with the Kremlin. Alt-Info representatives are primarily known as the organizers of the riots in Tbilisi in the summer of 2021, when many of the far right, incited by them, came out to violently protest against pride week. The main target of the attackers were journalists, at the same time the cameraman of the local Pirveli TV channel Lekso Lashkarava was beaten, he did not survive.
Update. The Parliament of Georgia in the first reading adopted the bill "on foreign agents", this is evidenced by the voting results. Of the 150 deputies, 76 were in favor (the ruling party), the opposition: 13 were against and 61 did not vote.
By 20:25 Georgian time, about 10 thousand protesters against this law had already gathered on Rustaveli Avenue, their number continues to increase, blogger Nikolai Levshits writes .