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Protesters in Georgia claim government is being controlled by Moscow

Protests in Tbilisi
Protests in Tbilisi Copyright Shakh Aivazov/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Shakh Aivazov/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews Georgia
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Thousands of opposition supporters gathered outside the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi on Sunday amid growing criticism of the government for its pro-Russian authoritarian ways.

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Thousands of opposition supporters gathered outside the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi on Sunday amid growing criticism of the government for its alleged pro-Russian, authoritarian behaviour.

The protest was called the main opposition group, the United National Movement, founded by imprisoned former president Mikheil Saakashvili.

The demonstrators waved Georgian, Ukrainian and European Union flags.

They are demanding the "release of political prisoners and the implementation of reforms" sought by the EU to grant Tbilisi candidate status.

The government of the ruling Georgian Dream party has been accused of imprisoning opponents, silencing independent media, and collaborating secretly with the Kremlin.

A Euronews report in March explored how shadowy political groups were trying to create a false impression that Georgian society was more divided on key issues, such as EU membership than it was in reality. 

Experts suggested the Kremlin was behind them.  

"The government is controlled from Moscow and our obligation is to save our homeland from Russian stooges," said former president Guiorgui Margvelashvili: "We are freedom-loving, we are part of the European family, we reject Russian slavery.

"Our fight will be peaceful but uncompromising and will lead us to where we belong, the European Union,"  said 27-year-old painter Luka Kavsadze.

Under pressure from mass protests, the government last month dropped a bill inspired by the Russian model to classify as "foreign agents" NGOs and media that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad.

And the US announced on Wednesday that it had banned four Georgian judges, accusing them of abusing their positions to serve the interests of an oligarch.

Along with Ukraine and Moldova, Georgia applied for EU membership a few days after the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory began in late February 2022. In June, the EU granted official candidate status to Kyiv and Chisinau but asked Tbilisi to implement reforms first.

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