Georgians Rally Against 'Foreign Agent' Law

Georgians Rally Against 'Foreign Agent' Law
Georgians Rally Against 'Foreign Agent' Law

Several thousand Georgians gathered outside parliament in Tbilisi in a fresh protest against a Russian-styled "foreign agent" bill, despite government officials warning of arrests.

Demonstrations have gripped the tiny Caucasus country for weeks over the bill targeting NGOs, dubbed the "Russian law" as it mirrors repressive legislation used by the Kremlin to silence critics.

Tensions flared in the Georgian capital Tbilisi as several thousand protesters gathered outside parliament to demonstrate against a proposed "foreign agent" law criticized as mirroring repressive Russian legislation.

The protest marks the latest in weeks of unrest gripping the small Caucasus nation over the controversial bill targeting NGOs.

Protesters, many waving EU and Georgian flags, flooded Rustaveli Avenue hours before parliament was due to debate the bill in its third reading. The ruling Georgian Dream party remains intent on passing the law this week despite the outcry. Protesters, largely led by students and youth, vowed to spend the night opposing what they view as a measure designed to undermine Georgia's EU aspirations.

Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri warned blocking parliament could mean up to 4 years imprisonment, though protesters remained defiant.

The bill's opponents accuse the government of pulling Georgia back into Moscow's orbit after the ex-Soviet republic charted a Western course.

Georgia's pro-EU President Salome Zurabishvili cautioned protesters to "beware of provocations," following reports of harassment against activists. Georgian Dream portrays the bill as ensuring transparency, but critics see an attempt to silence dissent ahead of elections.

As night fell, the youngest generation protesting seemed determined to stop the "Russian law" from passing. "We are not scared. We are Gen Z and we are Georgian," declared 19-year-old Nino defiantly.