Georgia: Thousands protest “foreign agents” bill

Thousands of people poured onto the streets of Tbilisi, Georgia to protest a proposed measure that seeks to equire all organisations that receive more than 20 percent foreign funding to register as “foreign agents” or face big fines. Dubbed as the “Transparency of Foreign Funding” bill, the proposed law draws parallelism to a law in Russia which forces dissenting groups and free media to shut down. 

The protests which have started since 7 March slammed the draft measure as violative of the Georgian people’s democratic rights and freedoms. The protestors also derided the violent attempt to suppress the popular protests.  “As an independent trade union, we will always stand up for democratic principles, freedom of speech, and peaceful protests. We are against any forms of violence. We were shocked when the government sent riot police with water guns and tear gas to suppress our demonstration. People were detained. We don`t want to see such things in our country,” said Marina Kurtanidze, President of the  Georgian Building and Forestry Workers’ Union. 

On 9 March, the government announced that it will withdraw the contested bill. However, trade unions and civil society activists demanded the government to provide clear details on how it will rescind the measure. They said that they will continue with the protests until the proposed measure is firmly laid to rest and all arrested protestors are released.