World

Tense standoff on streets of Tbilisi as protesters try to block MPs from entering parliament

Tens of thousands of Georgians took to the streets of Tbilisi, kicking off a week of rolling protests against a Putinesque new law threatening press and civic freedoms.

Massive crowds lined both embankments of the Kura River and the streets and parks beyond.

The demonstrators see their country at a crossroads.

They oppose a new “foreign agents” bill being pushed through parliament.

The law would brand organisations with 20% or more of funding from abroad as “agents of foreign influence”.

The legislation seems modelled on laws used by Vladimir Putin to crack down on the media and civic groups in Russia.

The country seems to be at an inflection point.

If passed, the new law will make it harder for Georgia to join the European Union – the dream of many Georgians, especially the young.

The US government says it is deeply concerned about democracy backsliding in the Caucasian country.

Demonstrators in Tbilisi. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Tens of thousands of people protested. Pic: Reuters

The government was forced to shelve the law last year in the face of bitter opposition but the Georgian Dream ruling party, regarded by many as pro-Russian, is determined to see it passed.

In chaotic scenes that saw lawmakers brawling in parliament, MPs have voted for it twice and it faces a third and final reading on Friday.


Follow Sky News on WhatsApp
Follow Sky News on WhatsApp

Keep up with all the latest news from the UK and around the world by following Sky News

Tap here

Protesters are determined to stop that happening.

They aim to surround the parliament and prevent MPs from meeting to vote for the bill.

Read more from Sky News:
Man rescued from collapsed building after five days
Flash floods kill at least 300 in Afghanistan

The evening passed off peacefully – unlike other recent protests that have seen heavy-handed policing and plain clothes thugs beating up demonstrators.

Civil rights activists say they have been targeted by goons outside their homes in what appears to be a campaign of intimidation ahead of what is expected to be a tumultuous week of protest.

Articles You May Like

Duke and Duchess of Westminster share new photos of lavish wedding
Musk’s huge Starship rocket splashes down in Indian Ocean
Hunter Biden conviction is latest twist in family story – and could shape months ahead for US president
Body Shop administrators in race to wrap up sale
Sunak delivers ‘kitchen sink’ manifesto – but he was unable to promise biggest thing Tory MPs want