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Protesters against foreign-agents bill march through central streets in Georgian capital

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Thousands of protesters against a bill on foreign agents marched through the central streets of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Friday, according to a TASS reporter.

Before the march, protesters gathered near Paragraph Freedom Square Hotel. They then headed to a nearby office of the ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party and on to the parliament building.

Hundreds of people went near a church that sits opposite the parliament building and are burning candles on the occasion of coming Orthodox Easter.

On Wednesday, the Georgian legislature backed the second reading of the bill On Transparency of Foreign Influence which was opposed by Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, the opposition and Western diplomats who regard the legislation as a hurdle to the country’s integration into the European Union. The US State Department said the bill is aimed at undermining the country’s vibrant civil society. Leaders of the Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party argued that the bill only serves the purpose of ensuring transparency of foreign funding provided to non-governmental organizations and news media.

The ruling Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia party announced in early April that it had decided to reintroduce the bill On Transparency of Foreign Influence to parliament. This happened a year after a similar initiative triggered mass protests, forcing the authorities to abandon the bill. Its text remained identical to last year’s, except for the term “agent of foreign influence.” Instead, the term “organization promoting the interests of a foreign power” is used. The bill and its passage in the parliament cause regular protests involving clashes with the police.

Source: Itar Tass

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