Riot police face off against demonstrators in Georgia

Riot police face off against demonstrators in Georgia
Riot police face off against demonstrators in Georgia

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Riot police face off against demonstrators in Georgia in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - TBLISI — Overnight protests in Georgia have continued into the morning in a last-ditch effort to prevent the passing of a controversial law.

After a standoff with protesters outside parliament in Tbilisi, security forces pulled out from the main square on Monday morning.

The protesters oppose a controversial foreign influence bill, described by critics as the "Russia law".

The final voting on the bill is scheduled for Tuesday.

On Monday morning, governing Georgian Dream party lawmakers rushed it through a committee vote, approving it in just 67 seconds.

The bill, now due to go for its third and final reading, targets civil society organizations and independent media that receive foreign funding.

Protesters are concerned that the law would be used by the government to clamp down on dissent, and would harm Georgia's hopes of joining the European Union.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators spent the night outside Tbilisi's parliament building, dancing as it rained through the dark hours.

Once the sun rose on Monday, MPs from the governing party arriving ahead of the session were met with shouts and chants of "slaves" and "Russians".

Ranks of police with shields and water cannon were stationed at the building to prevent demonstrators from stopping legislators getting into the parliament building to enact the new law.

Photos and footage online appeared to show violent altercations between protesters and police.

Two US citizens and one Russian were among 20 people arrested at protests, Russian state news reported, citing the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Protesters plan to continue their noise through the parliamentary session in the hopes the sound will encourage MPs to reconsider voting for the bill.

Opponents of the bill say the measures are inspired by Russian legislation passed in 2012, which they say has been used since then to crack down on people critical of the Kremlin.

This proposed legislation would force non-governmental groups and media to register as "organizations serving the interest of a foreign power" if more than 20% of their funding comes from overseas.

The governing Georgian Dream party says the measure would increase transparency and defend Georgia's sovereignty.

On Sunday, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze vowed that his party would successfully pass it into law, despite the massive demonstrations that began nearly a month ago.

The country's opposition leaders have asked the UK to do more to oppose the bill, calling on Foreign Secretary David Cameron to speak out against it.

Last week, the US said it was "deeply troubled" by the treatment of protesters and called for an independent investigation into reports of "harassment and physical assault".

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has said the Georgian people want a "European future" and has called on legislators to "stay the course on the road to Europe".

The EU granted Georgia candidate status in December, but has warned the bill could jeopardize further progress within the bloc. — BBC

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