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Live updates | Georgian Government announces counter-rally in Tbilisi

22 April 2024
Protesters against the Georgian foreign agent law at a march in Tbilisi on Sunday. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/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.

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This post will be updated throughout the day.

23 Apr 2024, 00:00

We’re ending our live coverage of Georgia’s draft foreign agent law for today.

22 Apr 2024, 22:44

Thousands gather outside Georgian Dream office

Several thousand people have gathered outside the offices of the ruling Georgian Dream party in Tbilisi demanding they withdraw the foreign agent bill.

22 Apr 2024, 21:15

Street demonstrations against foreign agent law resume in Tbilisi 

Protests against the draft foreign agent law have resumed in Tbilisi, with several hundred people gathering outside parliament. 

Earlier this evening, around 200 protesters marched to the Tiflis Hotel, where a conference titled ‘Traditional Values as a Factor of Connecting Countries and People’, was believed to be being held. The conference was organised by pro-Russian groups in Georgia.

22 Apr 2024, 18:33

Culture Minister Tsulukiani: No plans to backtrack on the draft bill, no plans to hop on one leg

Tea Tsulukiani, Georgia’s vice prime minister and minister of culture and sports, has ruled out backing down over the draft foreign agent law. 

In a combative statement, Tsulukiani also vowed she ‘had no intention to hop on one leg’, a frequent expression used by the government to characterise their critics — those calling for implementing the EU-recommended reforms in Georgia — as servants of foreign powers.

‘We have no intention of [playing hopscotch] on anyone’s orders, and I’m not even good at that. I am Georgian, I am proud that I’m Georgian [...] We are responding to the demand of Georgian people’, Tsulukiani insisted, while defending the foreign agent law.  

Tsulukiani vowed that Georgian Dream will demonstrate at the event scheduled on 29 April in Tbilisi that they are ‘larger in numbers’ than the government critics, who she said were a ‘minority’.

22 Apr 2024, 16:35

Georgian Dream launches public discussions on anti-gender constitutional changes

The ruling party has begun in Kutaisi a series of public consultations on proposed constitutional amendments that would outlaw ‘LGBT propaganda’ and gender transitioning. The special committee on the amendments includes only one nominal opposition lawmaker — Pridon Injia, chair of the pro-government European Socialists party.

Local and international rights groups have warned the homophobic and transphobic legal amendments would damage the rights of queer people in Georgia. 

This morning, Ia Sartania, a journalist for the TV channel Formula, reported that she had become a target of a homophobic attack by an unknown man in the Tbilisi metro. 

22 Apr 2024, 16:22

Ruling party announces counter-demonstration, Ivanishvili expected to speak

Georgian Dream have called on their followers to gather for a demonstration in front of Georgia’s parliament on Monday, 29 April, the day on which the foreign agent bill is expected to begin the next phase of hearings in parliament. 

On Thursday, seven major opposition parties announced that they would launch ‘full mobilisation’ at the draft law’s next reading. 

The ruling party have claimed that the event has been set up in light of their supporters’ demands to provide an opportunity to respond to anti-government demonstrations, which have been held outside Georgia’s parliament daily for over a week. 

‘Let’s together say no to black money and yes to transparency, a genuine European path, and independent and sovereign Georgia’, their statement read. 

Alongside the foreign agent law, which the ruling party has justified with a supposed need for more ‘transparency’ around foreign funding of civil society organisations, the government last week passed an amendment to Georgia’s tax code exempting offshore assets from taxes and duties in Georgia. The move is thought by many to be aimed at protecting billionaire ruling party founder Bidzina Ivanishvili from possible Western sanctions. 

[Read more: Georgian Dream eliminates taxes on offshore assets brought to Georgia]

22 Apr 2024, 15:45

Irakli Gharibashvili speaking to journalists on Saturday. Photo: IPN

Gharibashvili: Georgia ‘not ready’ for the EU

Ruling party chair and former prime minister Irakli Gharibashvili claimed on Saturday that Georgia was ‘not ready’ to join the European Union. Gharibashvili suggested that the foreign agent bill would consequently have no negative impact on Georgia’s prospective EU membership but that the law could also be repealed if the EU were to offer the country membership. 

 

22 Apr 2024, 15:45

Protests continue over weekend, ‘permanent protest’ declared

Protests against the foreign agent law continued over the weekend in Tbilisi and other Georgian cities, including Batumi and Kutaisi. A women’s march on Saturday afternoon in Georgia’s capital city was followed by two nights of youth-led protests demanding the bill be withdrawn and the repeal of recent legislation exempting offshore assets from paying taxes when brought to Georgia. 

The organisers of Saturday’s protest announced a ‘permanent protest’, stating that demonstrations would be held daily until both Georgia’s foreign agent law and controversial amendments on offshore assets were withdrawn.