Georgia's Opposition Party Calls for Continued Protests After Ruling Party Withdraws 'Foreign Agent' Bill

Giga Lemonjava, a representative of Georgia’s opposition Droa party, said he was ready to go on with the protests after the ruling party announced it would withdraw the so-called “foreign agent” bill on Thursday morning, March 9.

Lemonjava said the Droa party “did not believe” the ruling party would withdraw the “Russian” bill “because we have very sad experience that Georgian Dream has lied [to the] public several times.”

According to a statement on its website, cited by RFE’s Georgian service, the Georgian Dream party said it had “decided to unconditionally withdraw this bill that we supported.”

A joint statement posted by Georgian Dream’s coalition partners, People’s Power, said “the lie machine” had misled the public about the bill, according to a machine translation.

In a post on Facebook on March 9, Lemonjava called for protesters to gather in front of Parliament. “They have over 100 illegally detained patriots in jail. We should not allow ourselves to be fooled,” Lemonjava said.

Footage posted to Twitter by Mariam Geguchadze shows crowds gathered outside the Parliament of Georgia in Tbilisi on March 9. Geguchadze said the protests started with the Georgian and Ukrainian anthems.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said 66 people were arrested during protests on March 8 due to “petty hooliganism and disobedience to the legal demands of the police.”

The law that sparked protests would have required organizations that receive more than 20 percent of funding from abroad to register as foreign agents. Credit: Mariam Geguchadze via Storyful