09.Mar .2023 01:02

Zelensky Calls For 'Democratic Success' In Georgia Amid Protests

Zelensky Calls For 'Democratic Success' In Georgia Amid Protests
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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday called for "democratic success" in Georgia where thousands of protesters rallied against a controversial "foreign agent" bill reminiscent of Russian legislation used to silence critics.

"There is no Ukrainian who would not wish success to our friendly Georgia. Democratic success. European success. 

We want to be in the European Union - and we will be. We want Georgia to be in the European Union, and I am sure: it will be.

We want Moldova to be in the European Union, and I am sure: it will be. All the free peoples of Europe deserve this," Zelensky said in his evening address to the nation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine also released a statement on March 8 on the processes developing in Georgia.

"As a state aspiring to become a member of the European Union, Georgia must consistently guarantee its citizens the fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to peaceful protest.

We also took into account the intention of Ms. Salome Zourabichvili, President of Georgia, to veto the law on the so-called “foreign agents”, which undermines the activity of civil society. We share the position of the EU that the draft law in its current version is not in line with the European values and standards.

We express solidarity with the Georgian people in their desire to continue building the European future of Georgia," the statement said.

As a reminder, 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.

Today, demonstrators in Georgia have gathered for a second day of protests. 

Clouds of tear gas billowed down Tbilisi's central Rustaveli Avenue, where parliament is located, forcing at least some of the thousands of demonstrators to move away.

Many protestants were injured.