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Protests against foreign agent bill recommence near Georgian parliament building

On Monday, protests escalated into clashes with police

TBILISI, April 16. /TASS/. People protesting against a bill on foreign agents have once again gathered near the Georgian parliament building in the country’s capital of Tbilisi, a TASS correspondent reports.

The protesters have camped in front of the main entrance to the building on Rustaveli Avenue, which has been closed to traffic. Some protesters have moved to the service entrance to block it and prevent lawmakers and parliamentary workers from leaving the building.

On Monday, protests escalated into clashes with police. Fourteen people were detained, with four of them already released on parole.

In early April, the ruling Georgian Dream party announced its decision to reintroduce the bill a year after the initiative had triggered mass protests, making the authorities opt against adopting it. The bill is almost identical to last year’s, with one exception: the term "agent of foreign influence" has been replaced with "organization pursuing foreign interests."

The party's decision to reintroduce the bill caused a negative reaction from the opposition and President Salome Zurabishvili, as well as from the EU and US embassies. According to those opposing the idea, the bill will hinder the country’s integration into the European Union.

Foreign agent laws are in effect in Russia, some Western countries, Israel and China. The United States was the first to adopt the Foreign Agents Registration Act in 1938.