08.Mar .2023 12:32

Georgian sports community voice strong condemnation of ‘foreign influence law’

Georgian sports community voice strong condemnation of ‘foreign influence law’
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Despite the ongoing protests and opposition of a large part of society, as well as the calls of international partners, the Georgian Parliament, at its plenary session on March 7, passed a Russian-style bill “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” in the first reading by 76 votes in favor and 13 against. The bill involves registration of non-commercial legal entities and media outlets in the country as “agents of foreign influence” if they derive more than 20 percent of their income from abroad. Critics have drawn similarities to a Russian law that has severely restricted the work of civil society groups, NGOs, and media organizations there.

In response, a large-scale protest action took place outside the building of the Georgian parliament on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi on March 7. The police have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. Dozens of protesters were injured.

Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Georgia said that 66 people were detained.

Protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police. According to MIA around 50 employees were injured, among them several required surgical intervention.

Nika Melia, one of the leaders of the Georgian opposition party United National Movement said on March 8, at 15:00, citizens will gather again on Rustaveli Avenue.

On the background of Tbilisi protesters clash with police, more and more Georgians started openly condemning the law, the final adoption of which as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell warned, “may have serious repercussions on our relations.”

Scientists, artists, athletes, doctors, teachers and professors, writers, bloggers, and students have been making statements in public spaces for a week now. Below are the main messages of Georgian sports community stressing that the place of Georgia is in Europe, not Russia. We symbolically start the list with the statement of football club Gagra - a town in Georgian Abkhazia, which is currently occupied by Russia.

Football Club Gagra

It is impossible for Gagra not to choose Europe, because:

Only in a European family it is possible to get rid of the heavy burden of exile.

Europe is the only way to expel the occupier from our land.

Because Europe is the only way to return to our home in Gagra one fine day and host our rivals in our own arena.

Because Georgia itself is Europe.

FC Dinamo Tbilisi

Dinamo Tbilisi, as one of the main bearers of Georgian identity, is and will be one of the main driving forces for the self-expression of the Georgian people. Our club, a large Dinamo family, supports Georgia's European path, and we consider any initiative that deviates from this path as a threat.

Like our football, our country needs more development, and most of the population of Georgia has repeatedly stated that they see the possibility of this development only in the European family. Accession to the European Union should be one of the main goals of our country, and the legitimacy of this path should not be subject to revision.

Shota Arveladze, former player of the Georgian national team:

“Our future can only be European. From the day of independence, for better or worse, we have been able to become a better country, we should not create problems for ourselves at such a crucial stage. It is not up for debate. Almost a century ago, the Soviet Union considered Sandro Akhmeteli, Mikheil Javakhishvili and other great Georgians to be agents and spies, whose correct and patriotic activities history finally gave an accurate assessment of. No law or government can have the leverage to denigrate a person as an agent because of a different opinion or activity, we have left that in the past. The law aims to limit competition, dissent and freedom.”

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, winger for Serie A club Napoli and the Georgia national team

The future of Georgia is in Europe.

Georgian Rugby

Today, David Kacharava (Georgian rugby union player, Member of Parliament of Georgia, ruling Georgian Dream party) is a member of the team that is pushing Georgia towards Russia.

We were proud and supported him when he defended the honor of the Georgian national team, but what is happening now is shameful.

P.S. We are a fan page and we are heartbroken with what is happening right now.

Merab Sharikadze, Georgian rugby union player currently playing for Stade Aurillacois Cantal Auvergne in the Pro D2

Europe is the only solution!

Tornike Shengelia, Georgian professional basketball player for Virtus Bologna

I am Georgian and therefore I am European.
I stand with my homeland.