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Georgian Police Use Water Cannons to Break up Demonstrations against “Authoritarian” Laws

Hours earlier police had clashed with demonstrators, some of whom threw petrol bombs and stones

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GEORGIA: To disperse thousands of demonstrators who gathered on Tuesday night after parliament gave its initial approval to a draft law on “foreign agents,” which critics claim represents a shift towards authoritarianism, police in the former Soviet state of Georgia have used water cannons and tear gas.

Some protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police in the center of the country’s capital, Tbilisi, as demonstrators warned that the draft law could harm the south Caucasus country’s prospects of EU membership.

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The Dream Party, which backs the law, would punish very harshly any group that didn’t register as “foreign agents” and got more than 20% of its money from outside the country.

Salome Zourabichvili, the president of Georgia, has stated that she will veto the legislation if it comes before her, but the parliament has the power to override her veto. On Tuesday, she voiced her support for the demonstrators.

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“Nobody requires this rule, so everyone who supported this legislation has broken the law,” she claimed.

Police with riot shields fired tear gas and water cannons in response to the protesters’ irate arguments. Stones and at least three gasoline bombs were hurled at police.

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On the stairs in front of the Parliament building, people who had been injured by tear gas were receiving treatment.

Because Russia helped separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in the 1990s, many Georgians see Russia as an enemy. Following several episodes of bloody ethnic conflict, hundreds of thousands of Georgians remain internally displaced within the nation.

According to the ruling party, the opposition to the bill is motivated by opposition to the Georgian Orthodox Church, one of the most revered and powerful institutions in the nation. The ruling party wants the country to enter the EU.

A fight broke out in parliament on Monday as a committee hearing on the legislation came to an end.

If the measure is passed into law, more than 60 civil society organisations and media outlets have declared they will not follow it.

In recent years, people have said that the nation’s government is bad and that the country is moving towards a dictatorship. Georgia was denied candidate status by the EU in June, along with Moldova and Ukraine, because it had not made enough changes to its government and courts.

Also Read: Russia to Open War Enlisting Centre on Georgia Border


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