U.S. warns Georgia not to side with Moscow against the west

U.S. warns Georgia not to side with Moscow against the west

PanARMENIAN.Net - Georgia has been warned by the U.S. not to become an adversary of the west by falling back in line with Moscow, as its parliament defied mass street protests to pass a “Kremlin-inspired” law, The Guardian reports.

Washington’s assistant secretary of state, Jim O’Brien, spoke of his fears that the passing by Georgia’s parliament of a “foreign agents” bill on Tuesday could be yet another “turning point” in the former Soviet state’s troubled history.

In comments that appeared to signal a conviction in the U.S. that the Georgian government was once again aligning with Russia, O’Brien suggested funding could soon be pulled.

Billions of dollars had been spent by the U.S. on rebuilding Georgia after the fall of the Soviet Union and hundreds of millions more were planned for the country’s economy and military, he said.

“All that has to be under review if we are now regarded as an adversary and not a partner,” O’Brien told reporters at a press conference in Tbilisi.

The U.S. official was speaking as a controversial “foreign agents” bill was backed by 84 MPs to 30 in defiance of demonstrations that have brought hundreds of thousands on to the streets of Tbilisi.

Outside the parliament building, masked riot police used teargas in a vain attempt to disperse one of the largest protests seen so far while inside MPs brawled over the country’s future.

Peaceful protests carried on after nightfall, with throngs of demonstrators marching to Heroes Square, about 2km from parliament, and blocked off the surrounding streets.

Under the legislation, media or civil society groups in Georgia that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad will have to register as “organisations serving the interests of a foreign power”.

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