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Georgia: Stun grenades on protesters as ‘Russia bill’ advances

  • Georgia parliament passes controversial “foreign agents” law despite protests
  • Opposition leader claims police brutality, sparks further demonstrations
  • President warns against Russian influence, vows to veto contentious bill

A commotion also ensued in the parliament of Georgia, where the leader of the opposition declared himself to have been beaten by the police while clad in bandages.

Further violence has ensued in Georgia as police confront demonstrators who are opposed to a purported “Russian law” with stun grenades and tear gas.

Those organizations that obtain over 20% of their funding from foreign sources would be obligated to register as agents of foreign influence under the “foreign agents” law.

Critics in Georgia assert that the legislation draws inspiration from Russian repressive measures against dissent.

Many civilians have opposed it, having developed an aversion to Russia in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s 2008 brief invasion of their nation.

Wednesday afternoon, the Georgian parliament advanced the measure to a second reading despite this.

Protests have been ongoing in the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, nearly every night for the past month. On Wednesday evening, in what is considered the largest anti-government demonstration to date, tens of thousands of people blocked the city centre.

To disperse a multitude in the vicinity of the parliament building, law enforcement personnel employed water cannons, tear gas, and stun grenades.

Certain protestors attempted to obstruct vital roadways while others set fire to a bonfire as they regrouped. One individual was observed being carried away with blood on his face by an eyewitness.

Disputes also ensued earlier in the day in the frequently raucous Georgian parliament, where a pro-government deputy hurled a book at an opposition legislator and others engaged in physical altercations.

The leader of the largest opposition bloc in Georgia, Levan Khabeishvili, spoke while his face was severely bandaged. The individual reported suffering fractured facial bones and the loss of four teeth as a result of police brutality during the demonstration the day before.

Before this, he shared an image of his injuries on social media:

Georgia is confronted with the decision between Europe and Russia.

The president of Georgia, who also serves as the prime minister, has issued the following warning to the prime minister and his ruling party: “The matter under consideration transcends this particular bill.”

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President Salome Zourabichvili described the conflict “against Russian dominance” as “a protracted struggle that Georgia has repeatedly won to date.”

“Young people… are not interested in succumbing to Russian influence,” she stated. Drawbackously profound and unpopular among the entire Georgian populace is the Georgian ruling party’s proclamation that the West is composed of enemies and agents.

At the time of the elections, Georgia will be confronted with an existential decision: Russia or Europe.

Georgia is among the tens of nations that will hold general elections in 2024; the 2024 election is scheduled to begin in late October.

The president, along with every other bill passed by the current ruling party, has pledged to veto the bill in question.

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