Georgia's Ruling Party Stages Mass Rally to Counter Anti-Government Protests


The Black Sea Caucasus nation has been gripped by mass anti-government protests since mid-April, when the ruling Georgian Dream party reintroduced plans to pass a law that critics say resembles Russian legislation used to silence dissent.

The latest demonstration against the measure saw some 20,000 people gather on April 28 in a kilometre-long "March for Europe" in the capital Tbilisi. The next day, on the evening of April 29, thousands of people congregated outside parliament in a rally organized by the ruling party, amid widespread reports that government employees were being forced to attend.

EU chief Charles Michel has said the bill "is not consistent with Georgia's bid for EU membership" and that it "will bring Georgia further away from the EU and not closer."

In December, the EU granted Georgia official candidate status, but said Tbilisi will have to reform its judicial and electoral systems, reduce political polarisation, improve press freedom, and curtail the power of oligarchs, before membership talks can be formally launched.

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