200,000 people take to streets of Tbilisi in one of largest peaceful rallies in recent European history

Tbilisi rally
Photo credit: X account of World Source News 24/7

For more than a month, since the Parliament of Georgia re-started the process of adaptation of the controversial ‘foreign agents’ bill, protests have been conducted throughout the month period. On May 11 the largest peaceful rally in recent European history has paralyzed the streets of Tbilisi, a city with a population of 1,5 million people; approximately 200,000 people participated under the pouring rain, Kazinform News Agency correspondent reports.

Controversy around the bill is rooted in the ground that if the bill is adopted, NGOs and mass media that receive more than 20% of their funding from the foreign sources will be registered as ‘foreign agents’. This sparked a reaction not only amongst Georgian citizens, but the EU, the US and the UN as well, putting Georgia’s claim of joining the EU in jeopardy. Kazinform has previously covered the details during earlier protests in Tbilisi this month.

Peaceful rally named ‘March of Europe' included chats supporting Georgia’s claim to joining the EU and calling to stop the passing of the bill. Flags of Georgia and EU waves across the crowd, with lights from phones and flashlights lighting up the city.

Tbilisi rally
Photo credit: X account of World Source News 24/7

Since the beginning of the protests, the leading group of organizers and participants have been representatives of generation Z, which are the people born from the late 1990s to the 2010, thus now creating a phenomenon of ‘young revolution’ or ‘children’s revolution’ as it was described by novelist Zaza Burchuladze.

The administration claims that the law - which has drawn harsh criticism from the US and the EU—is necessary to guarantee that NGOs receiving foreign funds are properly disclosed. On Monday, lawmakers are anticipated to start debating the bill's third and final reading.

The ruling party, Georgian Dream, was forced to abandon plans for consideration of a similar bill in 2023 due to widespread street protests. However, the bill was approved by 83 votes to 23 in the recent second round of the legislature. President Salome Zurabishvili has promised to veto it after a third reading, but Georgian Dream has enough members in parliament to override her.

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