Georgia Promises To Take Overnight Action To Arrest Protesters Seeking To Block Parliament


TBILISI Government officials pledged to arrest protestors who attempt to block the parliament building ahead of discussions on the contentious “foreign agent” bill, which has been denounced by the US, the EU, and others, as tens of thousands of Georgians rallied in the city of Tbilisi on May 11.

Leaders of the opposition have urged demonstrators to congregate late on May 12 and spend the night in the streets in anticipation of the third reading of the parliament, which is expected to approve legislation that opponents refer to as “the Russian law” because it resembles laws that the Russian government has used to stifle the press and civil society organizations in that nation.

On May 13, the bill is expected to be heard in committee in parliament. On May 14, there will be a full vote, most likely leading to passage.

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze asserted during a May 12 press briefing that the bill will “reflect the will of Georgian society” and that it will undoubtedly be adopted by lawmakers of the ruling Georgian Dream party.

In addition to admonishing demonstrators that “violence will not remain unpunished,” he urged law enforcement to “act with a high standard in responding to violence and insults and to show maximum patience.”

President Salome Zurabishvili, who has broken with the government and publicly supported nonviolent protests, harshly criticized the government and Georgian Dream leaders for failing to consider the opinions of thousands of people demonstrating in the streets during a separate briefing on May 12.

“It’s very funny when politicians pretend to be able to count with high IQs and they can’t count how many people there were,” she said, adding that the government “has lost the confidence of the people.”

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