Georgian President urges protesters to show restraint, not storm parliament

Georgian President Salomé Zurabishvili
Georgian President Salomé Zurabishvili

Georgian President Salomé Zurabishvili has urged citizens protesting "foreign agent" laws in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to not storm the parliament building, according to Georgian news site Georgia.Online on May 1.

“Stay away from the parliament gates, nothing more is happening there; this law has already been passed in the second reading,” Zurabishvili said.

“Our fight is through elections and repealing all the laws enacted by this government recently, which take us away from the European path. That's our goal.”

Read also: Pro-Russian Georgian authorities furious over European Parliament's anti-'foreign agents' resolution

Zurabishvili noted that as Orthodox Easter Sunday is this week, that makes the week holy. Georgia is a very strongly Orthodox Christian country.

"Let's peacefully stay on Rustaveli Avenue, where we will once again show the world what Georgia is, what Georgia can do, and what the youth of Georgia can do," she said.

Despite these call, the president expressed support for the ongoing demonstrations.

Read also: ‘Will never be tolerated’ – Georgians will not allow a pro-Russian government – Georgian President

“I am following today's events from the residence, and I am with you, as I have said many times," she said."

“The whole world is watching us, and today's demonstrations show the mood, attitude, and purpose of the people of Georgia. This is the greatest strength to win the long-term struggle, which ends with elections for what Georgia will never be, Russia."

The "foreign agents" bill and protests in Georgia

A wave of mass protests broke out in Georgia on April 9, after Mamuka Mdinaradze, the leader of the Georgian Dream majority party, announced that his party would re-submit a bill on "foreign agents" to parliament.

The "Foreign Agents" bill is supposed to protect Georgia from "Ukrainization", Gerogian Prime Minister Iraklii Kobakhidze said on April 18.

However, civil society activists have noted that the bill's language is almost identical to language used in an analogous law in Russia, which has been used to persecute and suppress civil society, media, and non-governmental organizations.

The law would be scrapped or rewritten should the EU say that Georgia is ready to become a member, the leader of Gerogian Dream said on April 20.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the Georgian bill on April 25. The document calls into question negotiations on Georgia's accession to the European Union so long as this law is in effect.

Zurabishvili promised to veto the legislation.

The Georgian Parliament adopted the bill in the first reading on April 17.

Clashes broke out between police and demonstrators outside the Georgian parliament building on April 30.

Zurabishvili called for an end to the crackdown on protests in Tbilisi and placed responsibility for the events on the government.

Police have detained 60 protesters, accusing them of hooliganism and disobeying police orders. Six law enforcement officers were injured during the clashes, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported on May 1.

The Georgian parliament supported in the second reading the bill on "foreign agents" later on May 1. Thousands of people gathered again near the legislative building, and special forces once again deployed water cannons and tear gas.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine