Mikheil Sarjveladze, the Chair of the Georgian Parliament's Committee on Human Rights, on Saturday said the individuals protesting outside the Parliament building against the controversial domestic bill on transparency of foreign influence - whether urged by opposition or not - had taken “completely unusual steps”.
Sarjveladze noted their “unusual behaviour” raised “many questions” that all of the “violent” actions of the participants of the rally had been controlled by the “part of the opposition”.
During the public protest, Giorgi Vashadze, the leader of the Strategy Agmashenebeli opposition party, called on the participants of the rally to besiege the Parliament building, with clashes ensuing between them and law enforcement outside the lawmaking body.
According to the Interior Ministry, the gathered protesters, on March 7 and 8, acted aggressively and damaged the protective barriers placed along the legislative body’s building, smashed the building's windows, threw stones, various objects and pyrotechnics into the Parliament building and inner yard.
The Committee Chair stressed the representatives of the opposition were trying to give the story a “different interpretation” and called the violent rally’s participants who had thrown “Molotov cocktails” - “heroes”, adding the legal proceedings would “assess the incident exactly”.
The Tbilisi City Court on Friday charged one of the protesters with preventive detention, for attacking police officers and damaging the property at the rally. He had allegedly thrown stones and “Molotov cocktails”, injuring the law enforcement officers. The accused partially admitted his guilt.
The controversial transparency bill, which involved the registration of non-commercial legal entities and media outlets in the country as “agents of foreign influence” if they derived more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad - proposed by the People's Power movement composed of former members of the ruling party - was met with a backlash by domestic opposition, civil sector and diplomatic representations in the country, as well as public rallies outside the Parliament building.
Later, after the bill initially passed the first hearing at the Parliament, it was formally retracted by the ruling Georgian Dream party.