Russia casts Georgia protests as coup attempt, accuses West of fomenting unrest

© Alexander Zemlianichenko, Reuters

Moscow on Friday accused foreign countries of fomenting days of mass protests in Georgia, likening them to an attempted coup designed to sow tension on Russia's borders.

Hundreds of Georgians rallied for a fourth day outside parliament, as lawmakers dropped controversial "foreign agent" legislation that triggered violent clashes between police and protesters earlier this week.

The days-long demonstrations point to turmoil over the future in Georgia, which aims to join the EU and NATO, much to the frustration of Moscow, which invaded in 2008 and recognised two separatist territories in the north of the country.

"There is no doubt that the law on the registration of non-governmental organisations... was used as an excuse to start, generally speaking, an attempt to change the government by force," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments carried by Russian news agencies.

The protests, he added, "are of course being orchestrated from abroad" and with the aim of creating "an irritant on the borders of Russia".

The Kremlin criticised remarks from Georgia's president delivered from the United States and accused a third-party of stoking "anti-Russian" sentiment in the Black Sea state.


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