Rallies in Support of Imprisoned President Saakashvili Held in Georgia and Abroad

On January 4, protests called #SaveMisha were held in major cities across Georgia and around the world, calling for the transfer of Georgia’s imprisoned ex-president, Mikheil Saakashvili, abroad for treatment.

Mikheil Saakashvili’s family, party members, supporters and civil activists from across Georgia gathered in Tbilisi, Zugdidi, Kutaisi, and Batumi at 18 p.m. yesterday.

Rallies in support of Mikheil Saakashvili were held in two locations in Tbilisi: in Rike, near the Bridge of Peace, and at the Government Administration. After a while, protesters marched from the Government Administration towards the business center of Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, and there once again demanded Saakashvili’s transfer abroad for treatment.

Parallel to Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili’s solidarity rallies were held in the United States of America, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, Moldova, Belgium, Poland, Greece, Israel, and other countries. Protesters gathered near the buildings of Georgia’s diplomatic representations, demanding that the former president be transferred abroad for treatment.

Mark Feygin, a Russian opposition blogger, and Oleksii Arestovych, Advisor to the Office of the President of Ukraine, had called for a solidarity action for Mikheil Saakashvili at the end of December 2022.

Anti-Western ‘People Power’ Propose “Foreign Agent” Laws Targeting CSOs, Media

Anti-Western ‘People Power’ Propose “Foreign Agent” Laws Targeting CSOs, MediaThe Anti-Western People Power announced on December 29 at a media briefing that it will register two draft laws in the Parliament in January 2023. According to the MPs representing People Power, the draft laws will envisage creating a registry for “agents of foreign influence” and “regulating the dissemination of fake news by the media.” People Power says the draft laws will be based on “the best Western practices.”

People Power is a spin-off faction consisting of the former Georgian Dream MPs, who continue to support the government. GD leader, Irakli Kobakhidze argued in October, that the parties have “no significant differences” in values, but differ in the ways they choose to frame certain issues.

People Power plans to introduce legislation that will make it obligatory for “all relevant CSOs and other entities, who receive funds from foreign sources and aim to influence decision-making on public matters, or the formation of public opinion,” to register in the registry of agents of foreign influence.

According to Guram Matcharashvili, one of the leaders of the group, “the definition of an agent of foreign influence will be introduced and the relevant entities will be obliged to fully declare their financial income and expenses.”

Also, the vocal Anti-Western group of MPs announced drafting another law on regulating media, which they claim to be “based on the legislation of one of the advanced European democracies.” People Power says the draft law aims to prevent and respond to the dissemination of “fake news” by the media.

“As you know, today quite an array of CSOs and media outlets play a significant role in the radicalization and polarization of political processes in Georgia. Therefore, we believe that the adoption of both bills prepared by us will make a significant contribution to depolarization, which is a necessary condition for the peaceful and stable development of Georgia,” People Power added.

Russian Forces Detain Two Georgian Citizens

The State Security Service of Georgia (SSG) announced on 3 January that the Russian Occupation Forces had illegally detained two Georgian citizens in the occupied area near Koshki village in the Gori municipality.

According to SSG, the European Union Monitoring Mission (EUMM) hotline mechanism was activated and international partners as well as the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions (GID) were notified.

SSG says the responsibility for “the destructive actions committed on the occupied territories of Georgia, as well as along the occupation line, rests with the occupying force,” and all the existing mechanisms are activated to ensure the rapid release of the illegally detained Georgian citizens.

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EGI Political Digest was created with support from Swedish International Liberal Centre (SILC). The views and opinions expressed in this Digest are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of EGI or SILC.

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