Unidentified men attack protesters in Tbilisi during rally against ‘foreign agent bill’

Protests in Tbilisi on May 2
Protests in Tbilisi on May 2

A group of unidentified men assaulted protesters in Tbilisi on May 2, beating activists and sending some to the hospital, according to the Georgian outlet SOVA.

The pro-government thugs were driving several cars and appeared suddenly, beginning to beat people chaotically. Activists said they were attacked by 10-15 men of athletic build.

Several people were seriously injured, with their teeth knocked out and possibly concussions, according to media reports. Some of them were taken to the hospital.

The 17th large-scale rally against the law on “foreign agents” began in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on May 2. Thousands of demonstrators gathered near the parliament building and marched toward Heroes Square.

The bill on “foreign agents” and protests in Georgia

A wave of mass protests erupted in Georgia on April 9 after the leader of the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority, Mamuka Mdinaradze, announced that his party would submit a bill on “foreign agents,” or the so-called “Russian law,” to parliament for the second time. Security forces began dispersing demonstrators in Tbilisi on April 16.

The Georgian legislature passed the bill in the first reading on April 17. The document introduces the registration of non-profit legal entities and media outlets that receive more than 20% of their income from abroad as “organizations acting in the interests of a foreign state.” To come into effect, a bill needs to pass three votes in the Georgian parliament.

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili has promised to veto the document.

Read also: Georgian President demands that the crackdown of peaceful protests ends

The bill on “foreign agents” is supposed to protect the country from “Ukrainization,” Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said on April 18. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry responded that the real threat to Georgia is Russification, not “mystical Ukrainization,” adding that using Ukraine in such a derogatory context “causes additional damage to Ukrainian-Georgian relations.”

Members of the European Parliament stated on April 18 that the adoption of the controversial bill on foreign agents in Georgia jeopardizes the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on April 25 on Georgia’s bill on transparency of foreign influence. The document calls into question Georgia’s accession negotiations with the European Union as long as this law remains in force.

Read also: Crackdown on protesters in Georgia halted, demostrations resume in front of parliament

Clashes broke out between police and demonstrators near the Georgian parliament building on April 30. President Salome Zourabichvili called for an end to the dispersal of the protest in Tbilisi and blamed the government for the events.

The Interior Ministry reported on May 1 that police detained 60 demonstrators. They are charged with hooliganism and disobedience to a lawful police request. Six police officers were injured during the clashes.

Later on May 1, the Georgian parliament supported the bill on “foreign agents” in the second reading.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine