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Will Georgian Dream crush Georgians’ dreams?

​Georgia protests

Georgia protests

Tbilisi is bracing for another round of mass protests on Saturday ahead of a major parliamentary milestone for the controversial “foreign agents” bill advanced by the ruling Georgian Dream party. If it passes its third reading in parliament — which has been moved up to Monday — opponents say Georgian Dream and its éminence grise, Bidzina Ivanishvili, will derail the European ambitions of the country’s youth.

The bill, modeled on a similar Russian law Putin’s regime has used to choke off dissent, was already shelved after similar mass protests last year. Georgia-born Eurasia Group analyst Tinatin Japaridze says the government isn’t likely to surrender this time, which could lead to escalation. If protests on Saturday grow outside the capital, in Georgian Dream’s strongholds, the government could be tempted to crack down violently. It has already accused protesters of attempting a putsch.

Brussels warned this bill would make it hard for Georgia to join the EU, a goal written into the country’s constitution. That suits Ivanishvili, who has deep ties to Moscow, but Japaridze says Gen Z Georgians are dead set against a Russian orientation.

“It's really not just about visa-free travel and the ability to work in Europe,” she says, explaining that democracy and human rights are “not some artificial values that these kids have put on as a costume to go out and protest. This is who they truly believe they are, and this is what they're fighting for.”

With parliamentary elections scheduled for Oct. 26, we’re keeping an eye out for violence, and for a leader to emerge from Georgia’s splintered opposition.


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