Georgia protests: Stun grenades used on demonstrators as ‘Russia bill’ moves to next stage

Georgia protests: Stun grenades used on demonstrators as ‘Russia bill’ moves to next stage
  • PublishedMay 2, 2024

A commotion also unfolded in Georgia’s parliament, where the opposition leader appeared covered in bandages and said he had been beaten by the police.

Another night of violence has unfolded in Georgia as police have fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters opposing a so-called “Russian law”.

The “foreign agents” bill would require organisations that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as agents of foreign influence.

Georgian critics say the bill is inspired by laws used to suppress dissent in Russia.

It’s been opposed by many civilians, who are opposed to Russia following Vladimir Putin’s brief war on their country in 2008.

Despite this, Georgia‘s parliament passed the bill to a second reading on Wednesday afternoon.

Ever-growing protests have taken place on the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, almost nightly for a month, and on Wednesday evening, a heaving crowd of tens of thousands shut down the city centre in the largest anti-government demonstration yet.

Police face demonstrators during an opposition protest against "the Russian law" near the Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Wednesday, May 1, 2024. Pic: AP
Image:Protesters have gathered in the capital almost every night for a month. Pic: AP
An injured demonstrator gets a first aid at an ambulance after clashes with police during an opposition protest against "the Russian law" near the Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Thursday, May 2, 2024. Pic: AP Photo
Image:An injured demonstrator gets a first aid near the Parliament building in Tbilisi. Pic: AP Photo

Police officers cleared a crowd near the parliament building by using tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons.

Protesters regrouped, with some lighting a bonfire while others attempted to barricade key roads. An eyewitness saw at least one man carried away with his face bloodied.

Earlier in the day, scuffles also took place during Georgia’s often-rowdy parliament as one pro-government deputy threw a book at an opposition legislator as others physically confronted each other.

Levan Khabeishvili, leader of Georgia’s largest opposition bloc, spoke with his face heavily bandaged. He said he had broken facial bones and was missing four teeth after being beaten by police at the previous day’s protest.

He previously posted a picture of his injuries on social media:

‘Georgia has to choose – Europe or Russia?’

Georgia has both a president and a prime minister, and the former has hit out at the latter and his ruling party, warning them: “The issue at stake is much larger than this bill.”

President Salome Zourabichvili told Sky News the battle “against Russian domination” is “a long fight that Georgia has until now won many times”.

“The young part of the population… doesn’t want to fold back under Russian influence,” she said. “What is very profound, and what is not accept[ed] by the entire Georgia population, is what has been said by the Georgian ruling party, which is declaring that the West are enemies and agents.”

“What is at hand, is the existential choice that Georgia will have to make by the time of the elections – Europe or Russia?”

Georgia is one of the tens of countries with a general election taking place in 2024 and its is due to take place in late October.

The president has vowed to veto the bill – as well as all others passed by the current ruling party.

SOURCE: SKYNEWS

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