KYIV (AFP) – Ukraine on Monday denied it meddled in anti-government protests that erupted in Georgia last week, after Tbilisi accused Kyiv of getting involved in the country’s politics by commenting on the unrest.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had wished “democratic success” to the tens of thousands of protesters, who took to the streets in the capital Tbilisi over a controversial law reminiscent of Russian legislation used to silence critics.
In reference to Zelenskyy’s remarks, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that “when a person who is at war finds time to speaks about a destructive rally… this is direct evidence that this person is involved, motivated to make changes happen here”.
Garibashvili criticised statements from Ukrainian officials as “direct interference” in an interview with pro-government Imedi TV station on Sunday.
Moscow claimed on Friday that foreign countries were fomenting mass protests in Georgia, likening them to an attempted coup designed to sow tension on Russia’s borders.
“Repeating Russian propaganda almost word by word, representatives of the Georgian authorities accused Ukraine of preparing a coup d’etat in Georgia, of dragging it into a war with Russia,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said on Monday.
“We categorically reject such insinuations, which have nothing to do with reality,” Nikolenko said on Facebook, adding that “Georgian authorities are looking for the enemy in the wrong place”.
Following two days of large-scale protests, Georgia’s ruling party dropped the controversial “foreign agent” legislation.
The demonstrations point to turmoil over the future of Georgia, which aims to join the European Union (EU) and NATO, much to the frustration of Moscow.