Commenting on ongoing protests against a contentious bill that is said to have been inspired by Russia, the Georgian prime minister has accused Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky of interfering in his country’s internal affairs.
Thousands of people have protested in the streets of Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital, over the past few days against a draft law titled “foreign agents” that targets the disclosure of money flows from other countries.
Media outlets, for example, may be considered “foreign agents” under the proposed legislation if they receive more than 20% of their funding from outside sources. The legislation, according to critics, is a strategy by the Georgian government to suppress opposition voices.
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Doubters have likewise highlighted a comparable regulation passed in Russia, where all associations or people getting monetary help from abroad or under some type of “unfamiliar impact” are pronounced, “unfamiliar specialists.”
Zelensky expressed his gratitude to the Georgian protesters for waving Ukrainian flags, which he said showed respect for Kyiv, and wished Georgians “democratic success.”
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said in an interview with the state TV on Sunday in reference to Zelensky, “When a person who is at war… responds to the destructive action of several thousand people here in Georgia, this is direct evidence that this person is involved, motivated to make something happen here too, to change.”
“I want to wish everyone a timely end to this war, and peace,” he added.
As the protests turned violent on Tuesday evening, at least 66 people were arrested, according to reports.
However, On Saturday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov compared the protests to a foreign “coup attempt” designed to “irritate” Russia’s borders.
Lavrov compared the protests to “Kyiv’s Maidan,” the 2014 uprising in Ukraine that toppled a Russian-friendly government. He emphasized that the “foreign agents” legislation had been “used as an excuse to start, generally speaking, an attempt to change the government by force.”
In 2008, Georgia fought a brief war with Russia over the status of Azkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway regions supported by Moscow.
Together with Ukraine and Moldova, Georgia applied for EU membership on February 24, 2022, just days after Russia launched a military campaign in Ukraine.
The declared goal of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine was to “demilitarize” Donbas, which is made up of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. Back in 2014, the two republics, which are dominatingly Russian-talking, split away from Ukraine, provoking Kyiv to send off a horrendous conflict between the two locales. More than 14,000 people have been killed throughout the conflict, the majority of them in the Donbas.
Despite repeated warnings from the Kremlin that such measures will only prolong the war, the United States and its European allies have unleashed an array of unprecedented sanctions against Russia since the beginning of the conflict and poured numerous batches of advanced weapons into Ukraine to assist its military in repelling the Russian troops.