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Sat. May 25th, 2024

Young protesters gathered outside Georgia’s parliament Tuesday and announced fresh rallies  as the ruling party geared up to adopt a controversial Kremlin-style “foreign influence” law.

Tbilisi has seen three straight nights of mass rallies over the bill that mirrors repressive laws introduced in Russia that have been slammed by the European Union and the United States.

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in the ex-Soviet nation since the Georgian Dream party reintroduced the law over a month ago.

Despite the rising tensions, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said his government will push the bill through in a third and final reading later Tuesday.

A crowd of some 2,000 gathered outside parliament on Tuesday — mainly students who have been refusing to attend classes — and announced a fresh evening rally.

“I hope there will be peace here,” 20-year-old Marta Doborianidze told AFP.

The bill requires advocacy groups and media outlets that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as bodies “pursuing the interests of a foreign power.”

Russia has used a similar law to silence public figures and organisations that disagree with or deviate from Kremlin. 

Protesters say its adoption would take Georgia off its trajectory of joining the EU and instead bring Tbilisi closer to its former master Russia.

The EU has said the bill goes against Tbilisi’s aspirations to join the bloc and young Georgians have voiced outrage over the possibility that a future closer to Europe is at risk.

“We were five years old when the war with Russia happened. We have bad childhood memories of that,” Doborianidze said, referring to Moscow’s 2008 invasion of Georgia.

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