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Clashes in Georgia – after discussing a controversial bill

Clashes in Georgia – after discussing a controversial bill

The clashes occurred when demonstrators tried to prevent lawmakers from exiting through the back door of Parliament – after discussing the controversial bill.

Later on Tuesday night, Levan Khabishvili, leader of Georgia's main opposition United National Movement party, was severely beaten after disappearing during the protests. A party official told Reuters.

Pictures published by Georgian media show the party leader with a bloodied face and a black eye. The party official says Khabishvili is being treated by doctors.

During the clashes, the police used batons and pepper spray to repel the demonstrators. A witness told the news agency that police also used tear gas without warning and water cannons were deployed.

On the facade of Parliament, where large protests are taking place, European Union flags and banners reading “No to Russian law” and “We are Europe, we are Georgia” can be seen.

– We stand here to defend the Georgian community's decision to join Europe, which was blocked by parliamentarians in the second session of this bill. One of the demonstrators told Reuters: We will stand here and protest peacefully against this.

Controversial bill

Protests have been continuing for several days against the draft law, which received the green light in the first parliamentary round in mid-April, and aims to classify organizations as “foreign agents” if more than 20 percent of their funding comes from other countries. Similar laws are used in Russia to punish government critics and silence independent media.

The bill has also been criticized abroad. It was criticized by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. EU officials even went so far as to say they could block Georgia's path to the EU, where it was granted candidate status last December.

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