GEORGIA The moral victory of Georgians against “Russian law”

Although the Georgian Dream demonstrated its strength with the final approval, the protesters had a chance to show the “European face” of Tbilisi. Many hope that the measure will not be implemented in order to avoid sanctions from Washington and Brussels. We are waiting for the elections in October.

Tbilisi (AsiaNews) – Young activists and students opposed to the “transparency of foreign influences” law, which the Tbilisi parliament finally passed despite the veto of President Salome Zurabishvili, gathered in front of the palace since early morning to express their protest. But instead of tones of civil war, an atmosphere of popular victory prevailed. The protesters were given the chance to show the “European face” of Georgia and make it clear to the pro-Russian ruling caste that they are not willing to give up.

The Georgian Dream MPs, henchmen of Putin's oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, repeatedly stressed that their task was to prevent destabilization of the country, to protect Georgia's sovereignty and to avoid participation in a war against Russia.

The young people who took to the streets shouted “We are Europe!”, showing that they were not afraid of police repression, as promised by the head of the Interior Ministry's intelligence service, Zviad Khabeishvili. He said on television: “We don't beat young men, we beat almost men,” referring to the unconventional appearance of the young men who took to the streets, who were equated with “LGBT propagandists.” And just in case, he also promised to beat up the leader of the opposition National Movement party, Levan Khabeishvili.

After these statements, Kharazishvili went to the parliament, and the leader of the Droa party, Elene Khoštarija, stood in front of his car and shouted at him: “Khareba, you are simply a coward!” He further explained to the journalists: “This is not about who is showing muscles, but we are talking about the traitors who have no real power in the country, because Russia does not rule in Georgia, the Georgian people are united and strong, we have been taking to the streets together for 50 days to make this clear to everyone.” Kharazishvili fled into the building while his helpers took photos of all the people surrounding the car.

One of the leaders of the protests, Georgiy Dumbadze, stated: “They are taking pictures of us so that they can identify us and pick us up in front of the house, but here no one is afraid and no one is hiding… For us, this is a historic fight, and the next elections in October will be a referendum on the future of Georgia.” Another figure of the street rallies, the young pianist Georgiy Gigashvili, confessed that he was afraid that the police would break his fingers and thus end his career. But, in his opinion, “today we are the real winners, because we have not felt this unity of the people for a long time… We will see what happens in the future, but today we feel superior to them, we know how to protest peacefully, and no one attacked the police, there is a light that illuminates our path.”

All media and social networks are showing images of young people sitting on the floor, reading books and studying together while their elders bring them food. The authorities see this as “just drama” and accuse the young people of paralyzing the country instead of going to school. One of them, Mariam, told Radio Svoboda: “For 12 years, the Georgian Dream has sown nihilism. For a while we allowed it and believed that we really are people with no self-esteem, but today we have won, above all, against ourselves, we have defeated despair and depression.”

Even if the president's veto is overridden, many hope, the “Russian law” may not be implemented in order to avoid sanctions and restrictions from Washington and Brussels, which have already been announced by several representatives and which have just been triggered by the street protests. The protest demonstrations may die down again by the time of the election, but some observers fear that they could continue without a break until October, with unpredictable consequences for Georgian society and not only for it.

Anna Harden

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