In Tbilisi, Georgian demonstrators, after three days of mass mobilization, succeeded in pushing back their government and parliament from adopting a bill against “foreign agents”. Moscow says it views the episode as a coup attempt directed from abroad and compares the Georgia news to events in Kyiv in 2014.
Russia on Friday described mass protests in Georgia as an “attempt” in the West to force the government to drop a bill that critics likened to a Russian repressive law.
Comparing the situation to Ukraine in 2014, a representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry in Crimea urged Georgians to “think twice” before pushing further against their government.
The statements followed the withdrawal of the controversial bill by the Georgian parliament after three days of protests that brought together tens of thousands of people.
The text provides for official registration as a “foreign agent” of any organization or media with more than 20% financing through capital outside Georgia.
Demonstrators compared the abandoned bill to a text in force in Russia that deals with “foreign agents” and is used to silence NGOs, the media and opponents of the Kremlin.
Hundreds of withdrawn people gathered near the parliament waving Georgian flags and holding “We are Europe” banners to celebrate their victory.
The reading of this event is completely different in Russia. The Russian president initially thought the rejected bill was just a pretext, seeing America’s “hand” in the protest movement in Georgia as trying to stoke “anti-Russian sentiment.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the protests were “planned from abroad”, comparing it to the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, which Moscow considers a conspiracy instigated by the West. The goal is to achieve “regime change by force,” but he promised not to prove his allegations.
A representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry in annexed Crimea offered a similar analysis. The company’s post on Twitter on Friday exaggerated Georgian news and the 2014 uprising in Maidan Square in Kiev, juxtaposing photos of the two events.
“Demonstrations in Tbilisi surrounding bill against ‘foreign agents’ lead to demands for government resignation,” he writes.
With a bonus warning: “We recommend the people of Georgia to remember a similar situation in Ukraine in 2014 and what it ultimately led to.”
The February 2014 revolution in Kyiv led to the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the country’s rapprochement with Europe. It later divided the two parts of the Donbass, which were protected by Russia. A civil war had been sparked a year earlier by the beginning of the Russian invasion.
Moscow is already talking about Abkhazia and South Ossetia
Georgian President Salomi Sourapichvili – who is independent from party politics and has made no secret of her differences with her country’s government – hailed the victory of the Georgian demonstrators from New York, where she is currently based.
A place that did not escape the Kremlin, and the spokesman of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, relied on this Friday to ridicule the politician and accuse him of serving the interests of the United States. “He is addressing his people not from Georgia, but from America,” he said, seeing it as a sign that “someone’s open hand is trying to stir up anti-Russian sentiment.”
The speaker did not stop there. He took Russia’s threats to the international community a step further. “There are certainly risks of provocations against Abkhazia and South Ossetia against the background of the situation in Georgia”, actually slipped Dmitry Peskov.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”
According to ISW, Vladimir Putin remains determined to “achieve a complete victory in Ukraine” despite the failure of his winter offensive.
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