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Georgia’s Foreign Agent Law Live | Zourabichvili meets with EU ambassadors

4 May 2024
Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Protests are continuing against Georgia’s draft foreign agent law.

Read more:

05 May 2024, 00:21

We’re ending our coverage for this evening. Join us again tomorrow for more on the mounting backlash to Georgia’s draft foreign agent law.

05 May 2024, 00:14

Protesters meet Easter outside Kashueti Church

Protesters have joined other worshippers at the Kashueti Church to mark the coming of Easter.

Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.
Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

04 May 2024, 23:33

Rustaveli Avenue blocked

The central Rustaveli Avenue is blocked as thousands of protesters gather.

04 May 2024, 22:48

Former NCDC head criticises bill

The former head of the National Center for Disease Control, Amiran Gamkrelidze, wrote on Facebook that the draft foreign agent law distances Georgia from its Western future. He said that he considers the bill just as harmful as he did last year.

Gamkrelidze came to prominence during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which he gave regular public updates on the situation in the country.

04 May 2024, 22:39

Protesters begin to gather outside parliament

Protesters are beginning to gather outside parliament. Organisers plan to meet easter at midnight at the nearby Kashueti Church.

Photo: Anna Edgar/OC Media.


04 May 2024, 19:04

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04 May 2024, 18:58

‘Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations now hang in the balance’

US State Department Counselor Derek Chollet has posted on X expressing ‘regret’ that ‘Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations now hang in the balance’.

04 May 2024, 18:50

UNM calls for Interior Minister to be held responsible 

The chair of the political council of the opposition United National Movement (UNM), Levan Bezhashvili, has called for Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri to be held responsible for violence against protesters.

‘When the state treats peaceful demonstrations and protesters so cruelly, when politicians are treated so cruelly and inhumanely, and when criminal gangs attack and retaliate against young people, the main political responsibility for this should be given to the Minister of Internal Affairs Gomelauri, because it is inconceivable that this does not happen on the basis of a political decision’, Bezhashvili said.

Bezhashvili was joined at at the press briefing with  the General Secretary of the UNM, Petre Tsiskarishvili, the Chair of the parliamentary faction of the UNM, Tina Bokuchava, and the Chair of the oppositional Strategy Aghmashenebeli party, Giorgi Vashadze. The UNM and Strategy Aghamashenebeli are running under a coalition named the Victory Coalition.

04 May 2024, 17:17

Abkhazian opposition figure voices support for protesters

Abkhazian opposition figure Lasha Zukhba has expressed solidarity ‘to the protesters in Tbilisi, the Georgian opposition, and all of Georgian civil society in their protest against the foreign influence law’.

‘We remember your support for our protest against the Pitsunda agreement, and the fight against the foreign agents law is still ahead of us’, he wrote in a post on Facebook.

‘I hope your efforts will not be in vain and that the law will not be passed. I am confident that no nation, especially the Georgian people, can be defeated in their resolve. I wish you strength of spirit and success in achieving your goals’, he concluded. 

Zukhba is a veteran of the war in Abkhazia and a prominent member of the Union of Veterans. He was among those to found a new opposition movement in January, after Abkhazia ratified a highly controversial agreement to hand over a Soviet-era dacha in Pitsunda to Russia. 

In February, Abkazian president Aslan Bzhaniya tabled a foreign agent bill to the Abkhazian parliament. The bill has been widely condemned by civil society there.

 For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.

04 May 2024, 16:57

Kaladze accuses opponents of bullying

Tbilisi Mayor and Georgian Dream Secretary General Kakha Kaladze has complained that on World anti-bullying day ‘an aggressive campaign based on the language of hate flows through the media and social networks in a continuous stream’. 

‘A special attack is being made on the proud children of our country’, he added, claiming that there was ‘pressure’ on footballer Khvicha Kvaratskhelia ‘to repeat literally the messages created by the ideologues planning the coup in Georgia’.

‘Anyone who has an opinion different from the radicals becomes the object of attack, and this is the majority of the population of our country’, he wrote. ‘An aggressive minority confronts everyone with hatred and contempt and declares those who resist the pressure enemies of the country’.

‘The hate that has been perpetrated by aggressive groups recently must end’, he said. 

Two days earlier, Kaladze insulted a journalist from independent TV channel Formula, calling her ‘insolent scum’, after she questioned him about the alleged use of rubber bullets against protesters on 1–2 May, implying that the mayor was ‘brazenly’ lying to citizens. Despite the authorities denying they were used, rubber bullets were found in the streets. 

While leaving the scene, Kalaze was also reportedly heard calling the reporter a ‘cunt’ (‘klekali’, literally ‘dickwoman’).

Kaladze concluded by repeating one of the slogans of the protesters, stating ‘of course, no to the Russian law’, while clarifying ‘no to the law or directive of any foreign country!’.

04 May 2024, 15:24

Kyiv Post calls on Zelensky to speak up about Georgia

English-language newspaper the Kyiv Post has published an editorial calling on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to comment on the ongoing protests in Georgia.

The paper also criticised Zelensky and his team for not saying anything to support the ‘democratic and pro-Ukrainian’ Belarusian opposition and noted that this was ‘a growing blemish on his record’.

‘And now, Zelensky and his team are doing the same in the case of Georgia’ the editorial reads. 

‘Instead of speaking out in support of the pro-European and pro-Ukrainian forces confronting the scarcely veiled pro-Russian line of those in power in Tbilisi today, he and his spokespersons remain conspicuously mute’.

The Kyiv Post called on the government to ‘emphasise that you are engaged in a common, joint, struggle along with your nearby allies against Russian imperial domination. Don’t remain aloof. Instead, demonstrate the leadership required from you in your own backyard’.

04 May 2024, 15:00

Protesters to meet easter outside Kashueti Church

Protesters plan to gather in front of the Kashueti Church, opposite parliament, today at 23:00. According to the organisers, they will meet Easter on Rustaveli Avenue.

At midnight on Easter Sunday, Orthodox Christians make a candle-lit walk around churches across the country.

04 May 2024, 14:27

Zourabichvili meets EU member state ambassadors 

President Salome Zourabichvili is holding a meeting with the ambassadors of EU member states to Georgia.

Before the meeting, she addressed the ambassadors publicly, praising their countries and what they had done to support Georgia and it’s EU aspirations.

The meeting was then closed for the media.

04 May 2024, 14:16

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia’s speaks out

Perhaps Georgia’s most well-known footballer, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, wrote on Facebook yesterday that he is ‘experiencing’ the events that are taking place in Georgia.

‘I want to make my opinion clear and say that we deserve to be a part of Europe and nothing should stop us from that’, he wrote.

Kvaratskhelia added that he does not want his words to be ‘used’ by anyone, especially those who ‘criticised and mocked’ him.

‘[…] I love my Georgia […] I am saddened that today we value a person’s patriotism more with words than with actions. No to everything that opposes us! Yes to Georgia’s progress and victory!’

04 May 2024, 14:06

Key events from yesterday

On Friday night, thousands picketed the Paragraph Hotel in Tbilisi as it was hosting a reception for the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) annual meeting. The hotel is linked to Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire founder and honourary chair of the ruling Georgian Dream party.

After protesting in front of the hotel for hours, protesters marched to the ruling party’s headquarters in Old Tbilisi, after which they marched back to parliament.

Only one protester was reported to have been detained in front of Paragraph Hotel.

Earlier yesterday, a group of hacktivists on Telegram doxxed several MPs and parliamentary speaker Shalva Papuashvili. Websites linked to the government, including those of Georgian Dream and pro-government POS TV were taken down, with a Twitter account linked to Anonymous claiming responsibility for the attack.

During the day, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze accused Washington of supporting the ‘two revolution attempts of 2020–2023. This was followed by the Foreign Ministry accusing Paris of ‘lacking objectivity’ in its criticism of the government’s violence dispersal of previous protests throughout April. Papuashvili also criticised ‘foreign embassies’ for referring to the protests against the draft law as peaceful.

Georgian Dream also stated that ‘to date, not a single opponent has been able to present an argument as to why the bill, or at least one of its clauses, can be “Russian” or bad’.

Also on Friday, President Salome Zourabichvili vetoed controversial amendments to Georgia’s tax code that would exempt offshore assets from being taxed. Critics of the amendments suggested that they were aimed at protecting Ivanishvili from Western sanctions.