Two US citizens were arrested in Tbilisi, Georgia on Monday as thousands have descended on the streets for weeks to protest against the government’s move to pass a new, Kremlin-inspired “foreign agents” bill.

Georgia’s Interior Ministry said 20 were arrested in total for “petty hooliganism” and “disobeying the police,” among them were two US citizens and one Russian citizen born in 2002.

“Police officers arrested 20 people under Articles 166 (‘Petty Hooliganism’) and 173 (‘Disobeying the Police’) of the Georgian Administrative Offences Code.

“Three of the arrested are citizens of foreign countries, those being a Russian citizen born in 2002, a US citizen born in 1995, and a citizen of the same country who refused to reveal his identity,” the ministry’s statement read, as reported by Russian state media TASS.

Advertisement

Local authorities said they had informed the Swiss embassy of the Russian citizen’s arrest – since Russia has no diplomatic presence in Georgia after its 2008 invasion – and the US embassy of its two citizens’ arrest.

English teacher Patrick Hernández-Ball, photo social media.

Biden Officials Raise Concerns About Russian Momentum – NYT
Other Topics of Interest

Biden Officials Raise Concerns About Russian Momentum – NYT

From better electronic warfare to capitalizing on delays in US aid and Ukrainian mobilization, Moscow’s initial blunders have been reversed.

Kyiv Post learned from local sources that the US citizen born in 1995 is Patrick Hernández-Ball, an English teacher who’s been living in Tbilisi for at least four years.

Georgia has been a popular destination for foreign expats due to its lax immigration law, which allows citizens from most Western nations to stay up to 365 days without the need for a long-term visa.

The new “foreign agents” law – which took 67 seconds to pass without the participation of opposition lawmakers – requires groups to register as “organizations serving the interest of a foreign power” if more than 20 percent of their funding comes from abroad.

Advertisement

The government, which has held an anti-Western stance, saying the bill would prevent foreign actors from destabilizing the country.

However, speculators and protestors have criticized the bill, saying it could undermine freedom of speech and information flow like in Russia – and ultimately derail Georgia’s path to joining the EU.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell previously warned that passing the bill “would negatively impact Georgia’s progress on its EU path.”

Georgia Dream, the ruling party of the Caucasian nation since 2012, has maintained a friendly stance with the Kremlin despite the latter’s invasion of the country in 2008 and the continuing territorial dispute that arose from the fall of the USSR.

Bidzina Ivanishvili, the party’s founder, who was recently made its honorary chairman with the right to appoint the candidate for prime minister, is the wealthiest man in Georgia and an oligarch who made his fortune in Russia.

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Comments (0)

https://www.kyivpost.com/assets/images/author.png
Write the first comment for this!