Georgia: Ultranationalists Rally Against Soros Foundation, Land Ownership Changes
(Civil.Ge) — The group of several ultranationalist organizations and individual activists united under the “March of the Georgians” movement held a small-scale rally in downtown Tbilisi on September 12 to protest against the ruling party-proposed legislative initiative granting the Government the right to sell agricultural land to foreigners or foreign companies in “special circumstances.”
The protesters, who accused the ruling party of selling the agricultural land to “aliens,” picketed the campaign headquarters of Georgian Dream’s Tbilisi mayoral candidate Kakha Kaladze calling on the former energy minister to disclose his position on land sale exemptions, and for that purpose, demanding a meeting with him.
“I call on Mr. Kakha Kaladze, the secretary general of the Georgian Dream, Mr. Giorgi Kvirikashvili, chairman of the Georgian Dream, and Mr. [Archil] Talakvadze, leader of the parliamentary majority, to come out to the people and promise that Georgian land will not be sold [to foreigners]. This is what we demand,” said Sandro Bregadze, one of the leaders of the “March of the Georgians” movement.
The protester’s unsuccessful attempt to burst into Kaladze’s campaign headquarters ended with the administrative detention of Lado Sadgobelashvili, one of the organizers of the rally. Sadgobelashvili’s lawyer, who visited him in the detention facility, said he was subject to physical abuse by police officers.
Before gathering at Kakha Kaladze’s campaign headquarters, the protesters also rallied outside the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF), demanding to shut down the Tbilisi branch of the billionaire financier George Soros-funded network for its activities, which “undermine the Georgian nation.” The protesters chanted “Georgia without the Soros Foundation” and held a poster describing GD’s senior MPs – Irakli Kobakhidze, Tamar Chugoshvili and Archil Talakvadze – as “Soros slaves.” Later, they also threw firecrackers to the OSGF Office.
Shortly before the rally, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili issued a statement, stressing that the restriction on land sales to foreigners remained in force, and that it applied “only to the financial sector and for a limited period of time.” “It was precisely our government which recognized agricultural land as a strategic asset and restricted its sales to foreign citizens,” Kvirikashvili said.
The previous rally of the “March of the Georgians,” held on July 14, demanded the deportation of illegal immigrants, toughening the immigration law, imposing restrictions on granting residence permits to foreigners and banning foreign funding to civil society organizations.