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Georgia’s Foreign Agent Law Live | Ruling party holds mass pro-government rally in Tbilisi

29 April 2024
A crowd of at least 100,000 is gathered in front of Georgia's parliament. Photo: Tamar Shvelidze/OC Media

Protests against the draft foreign agent law are continuing in Georgia, as the ruling Georgian Dream party pushes ahead with the controversial legislation.

Read more:

30 Apr 2024, 00:55

We are ending our coverage for today. Join us tomorrow for more on Georgia’s draft foreign agent law.

You can read more about today’s events, here: Ivanishvili touts conspiracy theories at massive pro-government rally in Tbilisi.


29 Apr 2024, 21:36

Ivanishvili criticises UNM and ‘foreign interference’

Billionaire party founder and honorary party chair Bidzina Ivanishvili has addressed the rally. Ivanishvili claimed that a ‘global war party’ is attempting to pull Georgia into conflict, and lashed out against ‘foreign powers’ and the Georgian opposition. He added that had it not been for foreign interference, the ruling party would long ago have ended the polarisation of Georgian society.

Bidzina Ivanishvili speaking at the rally. Screengrab via Reuters.

29 Apr 2024, 20:56

Pro-government rally underway

Leading figures from the ruling Georgian Dream party are addressing a crowd of around 100,000, many of whom were brought to Tbilisi from other regions on transport apparently provided by local government or the ruling party. 

The speakers, who have so far included parliamentary majority leader Mamuka Mdinaradze, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze, and party chair Irakli Garibashvili, have praised ruling party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili, accused the opposition of advancing ‘LGBT propaganda’, and claimed that ‘foreign actors’ and ‘radicals’ are acting against the interests of Georgia and attempting to incite revolution. 

The speakers have repeatedly referred to protecting Georgia’s dignity, independence, and sovereignty. 

29 Apr 2024, 20:13

Youth movement call on supporters to avoid Parliament protest

Youth movement Dafioni, which has been one of the leading organisations in ongoing youth protests against the foreign agent bill, have called on their supporters not to resume their protest at parliament tonight. 

‘If we make a mistake and go to parliament today, the Russian Dream [party] will definitely try to provoke, which may even cause civil unrest, so we urge you all to refrain from coming to parliament today’, the statement read. ‘Our ongoing protest will continue in the coming days.’

29 Apr 2024, 19:30

Former diplomats come out against the law

A group of 57 high-ranking former diplomats including five former foreign ministers and 43 ambassadors have signed a joint statement denouncing the foreign agent law.

They said the bill represented a U-turn for Georgia’s pro-Western foreign policy towards Russia.

They also called on current diplomats and civil servants to speak out against the bill.

‘We would like to remind our colleagues, in the public or diplomatic service, that there are moments in the country’s history when silence is equal to complicity, and protection of the country’s constitution and European path is a responsibility, even an obligation’, the statement said.

29 Apr 2024, 19:20

Hundreds of buses bring people to pro-government rally from regions

Hundreds of buses and minibuses have travelled to Tbilisi from western Georgia, appearing to carry attendees of the pro-government rally, as shown in video footage from multiple independent sources. 

Earlier today, local media reported that transport was being provided from various parts of Georgia by local government authorities, alongside earlier reports that state employees were being pressured to join the rally. Senior ruling party figures have denied the reports.

Buses in central Tbilisi. Photo: Robin Fabbro/OC Media

President Salome Zourabichvili accused Georgian Dream of engaging in a ‘Putintype’ action, busing civil servants to Tbilisi from other regions ‘to applaud [the] ruling party’s decisions’.

29 Apr 2024, 18:48

Thousands gathered by parliament

Thousands of people are gathered in front of Georgia’s parliament and along Rustaveli Avenue, in preparation for a pro-government rally. A number of musicians will play at the event, and billionaire party founder and honorary chair Bidzina Ivanishvili is expected to speak. Ivanishvili’s son, Tsotne, has been shown on pro-government channel Imedi leading the party’s youth wing.

The crowd is gathering by a stage in front of Georgia's parliament. Photo: Tamar Shvelidze/OC Media
Tsotne Ivanishvili at the rally. Screengrab from Imedi TV


29 Apr 2024, 18:38

Foreign agent law supported in second hearing by Legal Affairs Committee

Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee has supported the foreign agent draft law in its second hearing.

29 Apr 2024, 18:25

Aleksi Petriashvili released

Aleksi Petriashvili, a former state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration under Georgian Dream, who served from 2012–2014, has been released after his arrest at yesterday’s anti-foreign agent law demonstration, RFE/RL reports.

Tbilisi City Court has reportedly scheduled Petriashvili’s first trial on charges of petty hooliganism and disobeying police on Wednesday at 12:00.

29 Apr 2024, 18:00

Teachers against government demonstration

At least 11 teachers from across Georgia have shared posts announcing that they are not joining today’s pro-government protest and are against the draft foreign agent law. 

Teachers posted photos from their classrooms, to show that they were at work and not attending the demonstration, with captions including ‘NoToRussianLaw’, ‘topic of today’s lesson: strength is in unity’, ‘yesterday at the demonstration [against the foreign agent bill], today at school’. 

Since the ruling Georgian Dream party announced that they would hold a demonstration in support of the foreign agent bill today, local opposition and independent media have reported that civil servants are being pressured to attend the event. 

Georgian Dream Parliamentary leader Mamuka Mdinaradze denied the reports, suggesting that civil servants were to the contrary being targeted by ‘pseudo-liberals’ and the ‘radical opposition’. 

However, he confirmed that transport was being provided to ensure that people could travel to Tbilisi to participate in the rally ‘in an organised manner’. 

Images via Facebook.

29 Apr 2024, 17:29

14 MPs ejected from committee hearing

Two more opposition MPs from the United National Movement, Tina Bokuchava and independent MP Teona Akubardia, have been ejected from the second committee hearing of the draft foreign agent law. Since the hearing began at 9:00, 14 opposition MPs have been expelled.

29 Apr 2024, 16:08

Rights defenders not allowed to speak at hearing

The current hearing on the draft foreign agents law is being held ‘under censorship’, according to thirteen local democracy watchdog groups. In their joint statement, the groups accused the committee chair Anri Okhanashvili of abusing his power and breaching the parliament’s rules of procedure by limiting the ability of opposition lawmakers and representatives of civil society groups to ‘raise objections, ask critical questions and receive answers’. Local media reports that 11 opposition MPs have been ousted from the hearing while other lawmakers walked out in protest. 

According to Guram Imnadze, a lawyer with the Social Justice Centre present at the hearing, Okhanashvili routinely resorted to ‘annulling’ questions from members of civil society groups. 

29 Apr 2024, 13:34

Seventh opposition MP ejected from committee hearing

Ana Tsitlidze, an MP from the opposition United National Movement, has been ejected from the Legal Affairs Committee hearing for ‘violating the regulations’.

Tsitlidze is the seventh MP to be ejected from the heated committee hearing so far today.

29 Apr 2024, 13:32

Former government minister charged over protest action

During yesterday’s protest, former government minister Aleksi Petriashvili was arrested and charged with petty hooliganism and disobeying police. He remains in custody.

Petriashvili was appointed state minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration after Georgian Dream came to power in October 2012, serving until 2014.

29 Apr 2024, 13:18

Sunday’s ‘100,000-strong’ protests

Yesterday saw a large demonstration in Tbilisi against the draft foreign agent law.

Some estimates put the number of people attending at well over 100,000, as the central Rustaveli Avenue was filled with protesters. 

Riot police were deployed to contain the crowd with several arrests made, though the demonstration remained largely peaceful. TV Pirveli reported that one of their camera operators was injured after being pepper sprayed by the police.

Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.
A newlywed couple attended the demonstration. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.
Opposition leader Giorgi Vashadze. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.
Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.
Police guarded the stage where today’s pro-governemt rally is set to take place. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.
Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

29 Apr 2024, 13:06

Second plenary session to be held on Tuesday

The chair of parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, Anri Okhanashvili, has announced that the foreign agent bill will have ists second plenary hearing on Tuesday. 

Protests are expected outside parliament to coincide with the hearing. 

29 Apr 2024, 12:34

Online media again banned from parliament

Journalists from online media outlets have again been banned from entering parliament to cover today’s committee discussions of foreign agent bill. 

Journalists from online media have been barred by Speaker Shalva Papuashvili’s office from attending all stages of the bill’s discussions so far.

29 Apr 2024, 12:13

Legal Affairs Committee hearing underway

The Legal Affairs Committee is currently discussing the draft foreign agent law, after it passed its first reading in parliament on 17 April.

At least four opposition members have been ejeceted from the hearing by committee chair, Anri Okhanashvili. 

Members of the opposition For Georgia party, led by former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, have left the hearing in protest.

29 Apr 2024, 12:00

Tbilisi prepares for pro-government rally

The Georgian capital, Tbilisi, is preparing for thousands of people to be bussed in for a pro-government rally this evening.

The central Rustaveli Avenue is closed, with large screens and other infrastructure being set up along the length of the street.

The demonstration, named ‘the People’s Universal Assembly — Homeland, Language, Faith!’, is being organised by the ruling Georgian Dream party.

Georgian Dream founder and honorary chair, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, will address the gathering. The ruling party called on people to start gathering at 18:00 with speeches due to begin at 20:00.

There have been widespread reports that civil servants and other government employees have been forced to attend.