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Mass Protests Continue in Georgia Against Anti-European Foreign Agents Law

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Photo: Mass Protests Continue in Georgia Against Anti-European Foreign Agents Law. Source: Getty Images
Photo: Mass Protests Continue in Georgia Against Anti-European Foreign Agents Law. Source: Getty Images

In the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, mass protests continue against the adoption of a law on foreign agents that seeks to disband the country's law enforcement agencies. In particular, during the night of May 1, police used special means and violence to disperse protesters, Ukrinform reports.

Opposition leaders, including parliament member and "National Movement" party leader Levan Khabeishvili, sustained serious injuries. Khabeishvili's associates claim he was beaten by police during the protest. They say he was detained while trying to help a victim and is currently hospitalized in Tbilisi.

"I don't feel any pain. My eye is recovering, as is my body. The fight against Putinists must continue," Khabeishvili stated in a video message, visibly showing signs of beatings and missing front teeth.

Political alliance leader Aleko Elisashvili also suffered police actions. Videos from various media outlets show him approaching law enforcement officers, after which they forcefully threw him to the ground. Additionally, several officers attempted to attack "Strategy Aghmashenebeli" party leader Georgi Vashadze.

The "Formula" TV channel reported that American lawyer Ted Jones was beaten during the protest dispersal in central Tbilisi. According to media reports, the U.S. citizen was a victim of physical violence by law enforcement, resulting in broken teeth and a fractured nose.

The Georgian Interior Ministry announced the arrest of 63 protest participants for minor hooliganism and failure to comply with police demands. However, protesters plan to gather again outside the parliament building.

Georgian opposition views the foreign agents law, currently undergoing its second reading in parliament, as analogous to Russia's 2012 law used for pressure and repression against civil society, journalists, and dissenters.

The potential passage of this law in Georgia and the violence against protesters have been strongly criticized by the EU and the USA. EU High Representative Josep Borrell condemned the violence against peaceful protesters in Georgia.

EU Affairs Committee member Thomas Hacker asserts that Georgia's ruling party is completely disconnected from the people's desires. If the foreign agents law passes, it could jeopardize Georgia's EU candidate status.

The USA also stated that passing this law could hinder Georgia's European integration and partnership with the United States.

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili stated she would veto the law if passed. However, the ruling "Georgian Dream" party, controlled by pro-Russian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, reportedly has enough votes to override the veto.

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