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Another protest against foreign agent law begins in Tbilisi

TBILISI. March 8 (Interfax) – Opposition activists and members of the public have begun a rally on the square in front of the parliament in Tbilisi, protesting against the endorsement of a bill on foreign agents in the first reading by the parliament.

Speaking at the opening of the rally, chairman of the United National Movement opposition party Levan Khabeishvili called on the crowd to hold daily protests until the authorities revoke the bill. He publicly burned the sheets of paper on which the bill on foreign agents had been printed, he said.

Unlike the previous rally on Tuesday, which was attended by a few thousand people, there were many more on the square on Wednesday. There were many students from various universities at the rally.

“Yesterday’s dispersal of the peaceful rally has put everything in the right place. The authorities have completely discredited themselves and are no longer legitimate. It’s only a matter of time before the incumbent authorities step down,” Gedevan Popkhadze, a protester and former MP, told reporters.

Similar protests were held in other Georgian cities on Wednesday.

According to the Interior Ministry, 66 protesters were detained during the Tuesday rally, all of whom are charged under administrative proceedings with petty hooliganism and disobedience to the police. The Interior Ministry also said that up to 50 police officers were injured.

Public Defender of Georgia Levan Ioseliani, who met with the detained protesters at the pre-trial detention facility on Wednesday, told reporters that some of them had signs of battery.

“The condition of Zurab Dzhaparidze, the leader of the Girchi opposition party, who was detained at the rally, is particularly serious. He has been given the necessary medical assistance,” Ioseliani said.