Several Arrested in Georgia During Protests Over 'Foreign Agent' Law

Tens of thousands of people took part in continuing demonstrations in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Wednesday, March 8, after the parliament passed the first reading of a so-called “foreign agent” law that critics say will stifle free expression.

Footage posted to Twitter by Giorgi Gabriadze shows protesters marching, chanting, and waving banners and flags on Rustaveli Avenue, a central thoroughfare in Tbilisi.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said at least 10 people were arrested during the protests after being found near parliament with batons, stones and other items “intended for violent acts.”

The “foreign agent” law would require organizations receiving at least 20 percent of funding from abroad to register as foreign agents.

Human Rights Watch condemned the legislation, saying it “would also impose additional onerous reporting requirements, inspections, and administrative and criminal liability, including up to five years in prison for violations.”

Critics have likened the law, which will need to pass second and third readings before it is adopted, to legislation in Russia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

On March 7, the US Embassy in Georgia said it was a “dark day” for Georgia’s democracy. “Parliament’s advancing of these Kremlin-inspired laws is incompatible with the people of Georgia’s clear desire for European integration and its democratic development,” the embassy said. Credit: Giorgi Gabriadze via Storyful