Protests in Georgia: Moscow denounces an “attempted” coup

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Protests in Georgia: Moscow denounces an “attempt” coup d”etat

Georgia's parliament on Friday revoked a bill compared to repressive Russian legislation after three days of protests. (File photo)

Russia on Friday presented as an 'attempted' Western coup the massive protests in Georgia that forced the government to abandon a plan of law compared by its detractors to repressive Russian legislation.

After three days of demonstrations by tens of thousands of people, sometimes punctuated by violence, the Georgian Parliament finally revoked this bill on Friday, as the government had promised the day before.

Ex-Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, imprisoned since late 2021, hailed the brilliant resistance of protesters to the brutal force used against them.

He also targeted a former prime minister, Bidzina Ivanichvili, a billionaire who made his fortune in Russia before creating the ruling party, Georgian Dream, behind the controversial text. No Russia with its brutal oligarch can defeat them, he posted on Facebook.

This protest movement illustrates the political crisis that has been agitating Georgia for several years, a Caucasian country candidate for the EU, where part of the population fears an authoritarian drift on the Russian model.

The “foreign agents” bill is seen by many as a copy of a Russian draconian law. (File photo)

The demonstrators and the opposition also compared the abandoned bill to a text in force in Russia on agents of the x27;foreign and used to silence opponents in the Kremlin.

But the Russian presidency considered the decried bill to be just a pretext, seeing in the protest movement in Georgia the hand of the United States trying to provoke anti-Russian sentiment. /p>

This is a pretext to launch an attempt at regime change by force, added the head of Russian diplomacy Sergei Lavrov, without however substantiating his accusations. He compared the protests to the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, which Moscow sees as a Western-sponsored coup.

Thousands of people demonstrated in Georgia against a controversial “foreign agents” bill, denounced by critics of the government as a tool of intimidation against the media and NGOs. A report by Tamara Alteresco.

In concrete terms, the bill provided for the classification as foreign agents of NGOs and the media receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad, under penalty of ;fines.

After the text was rejected by Parliament at second reading, nearly 300 demonstrators, according to an AFP correspondent, gathered peacefully in front of parliament, with a light police presence.

The Georgian people have won and will continue to fight for their European future, 20-year-old student Saba Meourmishvili said amid protesters holding We are Europe signs. /p>

We must continue to put pressure on Georgian Dream, he pleaded with AFP, saying he wanted to preserve peace and freedom.

Georgia's President Salome Zurabishvili takes part in a rally in support of the country's accession to the European Union in Tbilisi, Georgia in June 2022.

On Thursday, President Salomé Zurabishvili, a pro-Western critic of the government, but whose powers are limited, hailed the announcement of the withdrawal of the text as a victory, speaking from New York.

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This was not lost on Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who pointed out on Friday that Ms Zurabishvili is addressing her people not from Georgia, but from America.

So it's a sign that someone's conspicuous hand is trying to provoke anti-Russian sentiment, Peskov added, in an accusation clearly aimed at Washington .

Conversely, French President Emmanuel Macron denounced the very strong pressures weighing on Georgia, without directly naming the origin of these tensions, while calling for an appeasement.

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Flags of the United States, the European Union and Ukraine waved in the crowd of protesters opposing the 'foreign agents' bill.

The announcement of the withdrawal of the controversial bill was welcomed Thursday by Washington and the European Union.

After this announcement and against a backdrop of distrust of the government, several tens of thousands of people gathered in the evening in Tbilisi, the capital, for a third consecutive evening of demonstrations.

The first two nights of protests were punctuated by clashes between police and demonstrators as well as dozens of arrests.

Georgia, a former republic defeated in a short war against Russia in 2008, officially aims to join the European Union and NATO.

But the Saakashvili's imprisonment and several recent controversial moves by the ruling party have cast doubt on his pro-Western aspirations.

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