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Russia likens Georgia protests to foreign-sourced 'coup attempt'

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

The Russian foreign minister has likened ongoing protests in neighboring Georgia to a "coup attempt" that is being orchestrated from abroad to create an "irritant" on Russia's borders.

Georgia experienced a fourth day of demonstrations on Friday over the parliament's attempt to ratify a bill that requires all organizations receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from overseas, to register as foreign agents.

The protesters have claimed the bill has been inspired by Russia. The rallies have triggered clashes with the police and forced the legislators to drop the bill.

Reacting to the disorder, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the "foreign agents" legislation had been "used as an excuse to start, generally speaking, an attempt to change the government by force."

He likened the rallies to "Kiev's Maidan" uprising that toppled a Russian-friendly organization in Ukraine in 2014.

The protests "are of course being orchestrated from abroad" with the aim of creating "an irritant on the borders of Russia," Lavrov added.

Earlier in the week, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili sent messages of support to the protesters from New York, where she is on an official visit.

The Kremlin criticized remarks from the Georgian head of state and accused Washington of stoking "anti-Russian" sentiment in the Black Sea state.

"It's not from Georgia that she's addressing Georgians. She's addressing them from America. And someone's visible hand is trying to add an anti-Russian element again here," he said.

"Yes, this is fraught with provocations, we are watching this very attentively and with great concern," Peskov concluded.

Russia began its “special military operation” in Ukraine on February 24, 2022 with a declared aim of “demilitarizing” Donbas, which is made up of the Donetsk and Luhansk self-proclaimed republics. Back in 2014, the two republics, which are predominantly Russian-speaking, broke away from Ukraine, prompting Kiev to launch a bloody war against both regions. The years-long conflict has killed more than 14,000 people, mostly in the Donbas.

Since the onset of the conflict between the two countries, the United States and its European allies have unleashed an array of unprecedented sanctions against Russia and poured numerous batches of advanced weapons into Ukraine to help its military fend off the Russian troops, despite repeated warnings by the Kremlin that such measures will only prolong the war.

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