Thousands of demonstrators marched toward Georgia’s Parliament on Wednesday, protesting a draft law on “foreign agents” that critics say highlights the country’s democratic backsliding and pushes it closer to Moscow.
As the evening went on, a group of protesters tried to storm the government building, but were repelled by police officers who used water cannons, stun grenades and tear gas to deter the crowd.
Later, riot police officers in helmets and with shields used all those measures, along with smoke grenades, to push the crowd away from the Parliament building. They have been making sporadic arrests, and some protesters tried to respond with force, turning one police car upside down.
The demonstrations came one day after riot police officers used tear gas, water cannons and arrests to disperse a large-scale rally there.
Georgia, a mountainous country of 3.6 million people, is strategically positioned in the middle of the Caucasus, a region that for centuries has been the arena for a geopolitical tug of war between Russia, Turkey, Western states and Iran. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated the already polarized internal politics in Georgia, where the vocally pro-Western opposition has accused the governing party of siding with Russia. [Continue reading…]