Georgian police crack down on pro-EU protesters, making dozens of arrests

Georgia arrested 63 demonstrators at a late-night rally, officials said Wednesday, after police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at thousands of pro-EU protesters who oppose a controversial “foreign influence” bill.

The Caucasus nation has been gripped by anti-government protests since April 9, after the ruling Georgian Dream party reintroduced plans to pass a law, which Brussels has denounced as undermining Tbilisi’s European Union aspirations.

The turmoil came ahead of parliamentary elections in October seen as a test of Georgia’s democracy. Critics of the “foreign influence” bill say it resembles Russian legislation used to silence dissent.

An AFP reporter saw masked riot police violently rush the peaceful rally Tuesday evening, using tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon, while beating and arresting scores of people.

Several journalists were attacked, including an AFP photographer who was beaten with a rubber baton, despite being clearly identified as a member of the press.

TV stations aired footage showing his face disfigured with missing teeth.

Another Saakashvili ally, Sophia Japaridze, said she was “cruelly beaten by police.”


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