Mass Protests in Tbilisi, Georgia Touted as ‘Anti-Russian’
March 9, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—It appears someone is trying to spark a Maidan-style color revolution in Georgia. Thousands of protesters have been demonstrating at Georgia’s Parliament building in Tbilisi. Protesters in some cases are wearing gas masks and helmets, and some have been throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks at police. They currently have the building blockaded, and may have the entire building surrounded.
The demonstrations are supposedly in response to a new law requiring that NGOs receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad register as foreign agents. Opponents have called this a “Russian”-style law, and it has been denounced as going against Georgia’s “European course”—a clear indication of the kind of color revolution that is intended. There has also been agitation around the release of former President Mikheil Saakashvili, who was convicted in absentia in 2018 of abuse of power during his presidency, and imprisoned on his return to Georgia in 2021. The U.S. Embassy has come out in support of the protesters, saying that the imposition of the “foreign agents” law is a “dark day for democracy” in Georgia. The embassy also mulled the possibility of imposing sanctions on the country for suppressing the protests.
Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili responded to the protests on March 7, stating: “I want to tell everyone that the time when politicians and authorities served the interests of foreign countries is over in [our] country. We serve the interests of Georgia. Everyone should remember this well, and not try to interfere in the internal affairs of our country.”
After the protests continued to grow, on March 9 the governing coalition withdrew the bill in an effort to calm them down. A statement announcing the withdrawal said, “The machine of lies was able to present the bill in a negative light and mislead a certain part of the public.” The opposition, however, released a joint statement in response, insisting that the protests would continue nonetheless, “because there are many young people who do not trust Georgian Dream,” referring to the governing party.