EU Condemns Violence Against Protesters in Georgia Amid Clashes Over Foreign Agents Bill

The EU condemns Georgia's crackdown on anti-'foreign agents' bill protests, warning it could jeopardize the country's EU aspirations. Thousands protest, police use force, and the bill's passage remains uncertain despite international criticism.

Safak Costu
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EU Condemns Violence Against Protesters in Georgia Amid Clashes Over Foreign Agents Bill

EU Condemns Violence Against Protesters in Georgia Amid Clashes Over Foreign Agents Bill

The European Union has strongly condemned the violence used by Georgian police against protesters opposing a controversial 'foreign agents' bill in Tbilisi. Thousands of Georgians have been demonstrating against the bill, which critics say is anti-democratic and influenced by Russia.

During the protests on April 30, 2024, police used water cannon, tear gas, and stun grenades to disperse the protesters, leading to the detention of 63 people. The crackdown has been criticized by rights groups, the Georgian president, and EU officials, who have warned that the bill could seriously impede Georgia's path towards EU membership.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell called on the Georgian authorities to ensure the right to peaceful assembly, stating that the use of force to suppress the protests is unacceptable. "I strongly condemn the violence against peaceful protesters in Tbilisi," Borrell said.

The protests have been ongoing since the bill was approved for its first reading on April 17, with thousands of anti-government demonstrators shutting down Tbilisi's central streets. The bill would require organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as 'foreign agents' and be subject to close scrutiny by the justice ministry.

Why this matters: The passage of the foreign agents bill in Georgia could have significant implications for the country's democratic aspirations and its relationship with the European Union. The EU has warned that the bill is incompatible with EU norms and values, and could jeopardize Georgia's progress towards European integration.

The chairman of the main opposition party, Levan Khabeishvili, was reportedly badly beaten by police during the crackdown, sustaining a concussion, broken facial bones, and losing four teeth. The Georgian Young Lawyers' Association and Transparency International Georgia have called for an investigation into the police conduct during the protests.

The US State Department has also expressed strong concerns over the 'Kremlin-inspired' bill and its negative impact on Georgia's European aspirations. The ruling Georgian Dream party and its allies are likely to approve the bill despite the ongoing protests and international criticism.

As the clashes continue in Tbilisi, the Georgian authorities have launched an investigation into allegations of abuse of power by the police during their response to the demonstrations. The Georgian president, Salome Zourabichvili, has vowed to veto the bill if it is passed by parliament, but the ruling party has enough votes to override the veto.

Key Takeaways

  • EU condemns Georgian police violence against protesters opposing 'foreign agents' bill.
  • Thousands protest bill, critics say it's anti-democratic and influenced by Russia.
  • Police used water cannon, tear gas, and stun grenades, leading to 63 detentions.
  • Bill could jeopardize Georgia's EU integration, US also expresses concerns.
  • Georgian president vows to veto bill, but ruling party can override the veto.