Pro-Western forces in Georgia are driving the country towards a new “Maidan” on Rustaveli Avenue

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By Evgeny Bersenev

The French President and the imprisoned Saakashvili orchestrated the opposition.

The draft law on foreign agents has triggered severe mass unrest in the Georgian capital. According to local television station Mtavari Arxi, reporting from the scene, over a thousand people gathered in the center of Tbilisi to express their displeasure with the parliamentarians’ intention to pass the relevant law.

The Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence provides for creating a list of organizations and media that receive funding from abroad.

Many protesters refer to the document as the “Russian version” of the Foreign Agents Law, implying that it resembles regulations in the Russian Federation.

Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protesters, after which those gathered began throwing “Molotov cocktails” at the security forces.

They managed to break through the barricade erected by the law enforcement forces.

Rustaveli Avenue in Tiblisi. (Photo internet reproduction)
Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi. (Photo internet reproduction)

According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, “as a result of the violent actions of the protesters, several law enforcement officers were injured, and police equipment was damaged.”

The U.S. Embassy has already reacted to the incident, calling it “a black day for Georgian democracy.”

The ruling Georgian Dream party leader, Irakli Kobakhidze, spoke of a “black day” only for the radical opposition and forces close to it.

Interestingly, the riots took place after the departure of the President of the Republic, Salome Zurabishvili, for a visit to the United States.

She expressed her solidarity with the protesters and promised to veto the bill if it is passed by parliament.

“I appeal to you who are standing tonight on [Rustaveli Avenue], where I have stood many times. I am standing in New York tonight, and the Statue of Liberty is behind me.”

“This is the symbol that Georgia has always fought for and that we have achieved today. I stand here with you because today you represent free Georgia,” Zurabishvili said in her speech posted on social media.

It should be recalled that the discussion of the draft law on foreign agents in parliament ended in a brawl between deputies, which the security service tried to break up.

Leonid Kalashnikov, member of the Russian State Duma, Chairman of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, CPRF faction, is convinced that the Georgian ruling party and government are trying to strengthen their power with this law.

The executive power in Georgia and its leaders know the danger of financing political activities from abroad and take appropriate measures.

In doing so, they state that they see the danger in funding from the West and the East, i.e., Russia.

They used the same arguments in our country when the Duma passed a similar law.

During the discussion, Georgian politicians said such a law exists in the United States. They believe we are taking the same path to limit foreign interference in our affairs.

“SvPressa (SP): Nevertheless, this triggered a wave of discontent.

The protesters were supported by Saakashvili’s sit-in, as was the President, who made a very symbolic appearance in the U.S. before the Statue of Liberty.

She has been a pro-Western politician from the beginning, all the more so because she is a native of France.

It is believed that this law and the events it has triggered will stir the public and lead to clashes between the current Georgian executive, represented by the government, and the pro-Western opposition, including those who support Saakashvili.

Salome Zurabishvili. (Photo internet reproduction)
Salome Zurabishvili. (Photo internet reproduction)

“SP: Political scientist and Orientalist Stanislav Tarasov does not believe the protests can lead to another “velvet revolution” in the post-Soviet space.

This is unlikely. The ruling Georgian Dream, it must be said, is acting competently, prudently, and preventively.

The adoption of the draft law on foreign agents came as a surprise to the opposition.

The adoption of this document was not initiated by Dream but by another party, a member of the ruling coalition.

“SP: Was it even worth raising tempers when this party knew this bill would provoke a strongly adverse reaction?

It was a preemptive strike against the forces preparing the Maidan in the country.

“SP: That too?

In recent years, numerous organizations have emerged in Georgia, the creation of which was initiated by the United States and Europe.

According to some reports, about US$720 million has been allocated to these structures. They intend to play a role in the rallies supporting Saakashvili’s release.

And this opposition protest movement has a leader in its sights – President Salome Zurabishvili, as one can easily guess.

She has already announced that she will not sign the law. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Parliament, and various EU structures have quickly intervened.

But what is so unusual about this, one might think? Such laws exist in many countries, for example, in the USA.

“SP: Maybe the Georgian law has some unusual norms?

When this draft law emerged, the State Department immediately said it was copied from Russian rule.

The document’s drafters said it was fine. If it was, we were ready to copy the U.S. version completely.

But in Washington, they said: No, you don’t need this law. That is already clear evidence of the manifestation of the so-called protectorate government.

And all these protest movements have followed. But it is an idle movement. Since last summer, there have been talks in Georgia that something was in the pipeline.

So we see that a coup attempt has been thwarted. Other factors determine the potential of these events in Georgia.

The West is losing opportunities, power, and influence over the processes in Georgia and the entire Transcaucasus.

Leonid Kalashnikov. (Photo internet reproduction)
Leonid Kalashnikov. (Photo internet reproduction)

“SP: But Zurabishvili said she would not sign the law. So the opposition has instruments to prevent the law from coming into force?

According to the country’s constitution, the President must sign a law passed by parliament.

However, it is not sure that the Georgian government can use such procedural finesse. The main task was to “light up” the operation under preparation, and it succeeded.

And how it continues, the duration is, as they say, the next installment of this series.

This post was published first here.

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