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Two Americans And One Russian Detained In Georgia’s Capital City During Protests

Two Americans and one Russian were detained in Tbilisi during protests against Georgia’s controversial “foreign agents” bill.

Amid heated debates by Georgian lawmakers over a contentious “foreign agents” bill in Tbilisi, two U.S. citizens and one Russian were among 20 individuals detained during protests in Georgia’s capital, announced the interior ministry on Monday.

The demonstrations unfolded as Georgian lawmakers deliberated the controversial legislation, prompting a political crisis in the nation. Thousands of protestors, responding to a call from Georgia’s opposition to block lawmakers from entering the building on Monday, gathered outside parliament overnight.

Despite the protestors’ efforts, legislators managed to convene inside the parliament, with the judiciary committee swiftly endorsing the bill in a one-minute session. The full assembly is slated to debate and approve the bill’s third and final reading as early as Tuesday.

Notably, Russia lacks an embassy in Georgia due to ongoing disputes over two Moscow-backed breakaway regions.

Georgian media, citing eyewitnesses, reported that police intervened, pushing protesters away from the service entrances of the parliament building early on Monday, leading to some scuffles.

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has remained steadfast in advancing the bill, despite triggering some of the most significant protests since Georgia’s independence from Moscow in 1991. Criticized as authoritarian and Russian-inspired, the bill mandates organisations receiving over 20% of their funding from abroad to register as foreign agents or face fines.

Georgia’s ruling party contends that the legislation aims to bolster transparency in NGO funding and safeguard against external interference. However, opponents, including Western nations and Georgia’s opposition, argue that it mirrors Russia’s repressive “foreign agent” law, utilised to suppress dissent against Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

The bill’s implications extend beyond domestic policy, as it underscores Georgia’s trajectory—whether to pursue closer ties with the West, including EU and NATO membership, or to pivot towards Russia.

Despite the EU granting Georgia candidate status in December, concerns persist that the bill could undermine Tbilisi’s aspirations for further integration with the bloc.

Melissa Enoch

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