By her gesture, Nana Malachkhia, a 47 -year -old civil servant, has become a symbol. She tells the “world” her anger at the “foreigner agents” bill, and her fear of seeing Georgia turn away from the EU.
by Faustine Vincent (Tbilissi, Special Envoy)
The video sequence lasts a few tens of seconds. We see a woman waving the European flag against the powerful jet of a water cannon. She is soaked and flicker, but stood up to the police, quickly joined by other demonstrators who came to block around her. Tuesday, March 7, in Tbilissi, no image better embodied the aspiration of the Georgians to join the European Union (EU), but also their rage against the government, which threatened to reduce this hope by adopting its bill On “agents from abroad”. The text, modeled on a Russian law to silence critical votes, provided for to designate under the infamous name of “agents from abroad” any NGO or media receiving more than 20 % of its funding from abroad, under penalty of fines.
The gesture of Nana Malachkhia, 47, was relayed en masse on social networks and made her a symbol in her country, but also abroad. When a European delegation came to Tbilisi on Tuesday, one of its representatives, Lawrence Meredith, said “to keep this image in mind” rather than that of the European flag burned in front of the Parliament, the day of its visit, by a Far-right and ultra-minority prorussian group, Alt Info. The event was described as “isolated incident”. In France, Emmanuel Macron also mentioned the famous video at the Franco-British summit on March 10. “We have seen worrying images in recent days [in Georgia]: a woman wearing the European flag jostled, not to say more. All this cannot leave us indifferent.” Under pressure, the power party, Georgian dream, Georgian, Georgian dream, Finally gave up his bill on the same day.
This sudden notoriety puts Nana Malachkhia uncomfortable. With a discreet naturalness, this official at the town hall of Tbilissi rejects the “heroine” label that the Georgian press has attached to her, and prefers to salute the courage of the whole population. “It is not my victory, but that of all the Georgians, she explains. The government has crossed a red line, because this law aimed to sabotage the European perspective of the country.”
“All gathered around the same idea”
The municipal employee, with a neat look and a wise scarf tied around her neck, receives from her sister, Nino, with whom she participated in the demonstration. She remembers the anger that invaded her when she learned that the government had just adopted the text at first reading. “I was furious! They had lied to us again, and in addition they trampled on the Constitution!” This one calls, in fact, to take all the measures to ensure the integration of Georgia in the EU and NATO . Nana Malachkhia insists: she had read the bill before going to demonstrate, contrary to what the prorussian radicals have been claiming which has since targeted it.
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