Thousands in Georgia rally against controversial foreign agent law on Independence Day News
Kober, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Thousands in Georgia rally against controversial foreign agent law on Independence Day

Thousands of Georgians rallied in the capital Tbilisi Sunday to commemorate the country’s Independence Day, coinciding with the protests against the recent controversial “foreign agents” law. Georgia’s ruling party in Parliament said it intends to override a presidential veto over the law.

Put forth by the ruling Georgian Dream party, the law targets nongovernmental organizations and media outlets that receive funding from abroad, sparking outrage all across the country. Protesters held flags of Georgia and the EU together, labeling the protest as a fight for democracy against a pro-Russian government.

In a statement on Thursday, the US State Department announced visa restrictions on individuals who were involved with or responsible for creating a “Kremlin-style” law, including their immediate family members. Secretary Anthony Blinken noted that the law stifles the exercise of freedoms of association and expression, restricts organizations that serve citizens of Georgia, and suppresses independent media that provide crucial information and coverage in the country.

Blinken also argued that the government has engaged in intimidation of individuals involved in the protests opposing the law, calling them repressive tactics that have the potential of democratically backsliding the country.

Similarly, UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk stated days ago that the newly passed foreign agents law undermines the country’s freedom of expression, and that in passing it, Georgian lawmakers have disregarded the warnings of human rights organizations.

At least 300 people have been arrested since April, with many being subjected to police brutality.