Two Americans, one Russian citizen among 20 detained in Georgia, Russia’s TASS reports

Two Americans, one Russian citizen among 20 detained in Georgia, Russia’s TASS reports

TBILISI (AFP) : Some 1,000 protesters stood firm outside parliament in Georgia on Monday, vowing not to back down in their fight against a Russia-styled “foreign agent” bill, a day before it’s due to be adopted.

Protests have gripped the small Caucasus nation for weeks over the bill, which critics say will erode democracy and derail the ex-Soviet republic’s long-held ambition of joining the European Union.

Critics say the measure, which resembles one Russia has used to crack down on dissent, will steer Tbilisi back under Moscow’s influence.

The ruling Georgian Dream party has portrayed it as necessary for Georgia’s sovereignty, saying it will boost transparency of civil groups’ funding.

The bill is due to go for a third and final reading in parliament on Tuesday.
On Monday, it passed a committee vote, a final step before it goes for a vote in parliament.

The bill targets NGOs that receive foreign funding, with Georgian Dream’s billionaire backer Bidzina Ivanishvili accusing them of working on foreign orders and plotting a revolution.

Part of Tbilisi’s main Rustaveli Avenue was closed off around parliament on Monday.
Hundreds of riot police officers lined a street behind parliament, and some scuffles broke out between them and protesters.

Authorities a day earlier warned that they would arrest people who blocked parliament, but thousands defied the warning and came to the parliament’s gates anyway.

“We are planning to stay here for as long as it takes,” 22-year-old Mariam Kalandadze told AFP.
“This law means not joining Europe,” she said, adding that “this is something that I have wanted my whole life.”