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Georgian riot police clear square near parliament in Tbilisi of demonstrators

Water jets and tear gas were used

TBILISI, March 8. /TASS/. Georgian riot police have cleared the square in front of the parliament building in Tbilisi’s Rustaveli Avenue. Local TV channels are broadcasting the incident live.

The police approached the square from Liberty Square and April 9 Street. Water jets and tear gas were used. The demonstrators escaped to nearby streets. Police have begun to make arrests but not on a massive scale.

The protest demonstration began in Tbilisi on Wednesday afternoon. Hours later, opposition politician Georgy Vashadze urged the protesters to block the entrances to the parliament building to prevent the legislators from arriving for the session due on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Georgian parliament adopted in the first reading the Georgian version of the bill on foreign agents. In parallel with the parliament’s meeting, thousands of protesters against the bill gathered outside. Tensions soared when the legislators voted for this bill. Riot police used tear gas and water cannon. At night the security forces forced the protesters out of the territory adjoining the parliament building.

In February, two versions of the foreign agents bill were registered in the Georgian parliament - the Georgian version and the US version, which is in effect a translation of the US law on the registration of foreign agents. According to the Georgian version, mass media outlets can also be classified as foreign agents. The initiative does not apply to individuals. The US version is applicable not only to legal entities, but also to individuals and establishes criminal punishment. The Georgian parliament has already sent the Georgian version to the Venice Commission for examination.