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Georgians continue protests

The day after the controversial NGO law was passed, tens of thousands protested again in Georgia. Foreign ministers from EU countries also took part. Meanwhile, Turkey announced a similar proposed law.

In Georgia, tens of thousands of people took to the streets again to protest against a recently passed law on “foreign influence.”

Around 30,000 people gathered in front of the parliament in the capital Tbilisi on Wednesday alone, an AFP journalist reported. There were also demonstrations in the cities of Kutaisi and Zalenjikha in the west of the country.

European ministers demonstrate

The foreign ministers of Estonia, Iceland and Lithuania, who were visiting Georgia, also took part in the protests in Tbilisi. The chief diplomats addressed the demonstrators.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told AFP that his colleagues and he were at the protest to “support the desire of the Georgian people to be part of the EU and NATO.” The Georgian national anthem and the European anthem “Ode to Joy” were played at the demonstration.

The demonstrators waved Georgian and EU flags.

The parliament in Tbilisi passed the controversial law on Tuesday. According to this, organizations and media that are at least 20 percent financed from abroad must in future register in the former Soviet republic as bodies that “pursue the interests of foreign powers”.

Similarities with Russian law

Critics see parallels to the law against “foreign agents” in Russia, which enables the authorities there to take massive action against critical media and organizations. There have been mass protests over the law in Georgia for weeks.

The passage of the law sparked international criticism. The EU, the UN and NATO called on the government in Tbilisi to change course. The federal government also called for the law to be withdrawn. Georgia has officially been a candidate for EU membership since December. With the new law, a European future for the Caucasus country is hardly imaginable.

Türkiye is planning a similar law

Meanwhile, in neighboring Turkey, a bill has been introduced that would imprison journalists and scientists who work for foreign “interests.” The proposed amendment to the Turkish penal code provides for prison sentences of three to seven years, according to the text obtained by the AFP news agency.

The bill applies to “any person who conducts or orders research on (Turkish) citizens or institutions on behalf of or in the strategic interest of a foreign organization or state in order to act against the security or political, internal or external interests of the state “.

Björn Blaschke, ARD Moscow, currently Tbilisi, tagesschau, May 15, 2024 7:13 a.m

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