NewsGeorgia edges closer to Russia with controversial foreign agents law

Georgia edges closer to Russia with controversial foreign agents law

Georgia introduces new law. "Russian Act"
Georgia introduces new law. "Russian Act"
Images source: © East News | AA/ABACA

3:21 PM EDT, April 17, 2024

The Georgian Parliament has passed the first reading of a law concerning the transparency of foreign influences, commonly referred to as the foreign agents law. The law has drawn criticism for potentially being used as a tool against the opposition and civil society, mirroring similar circumstances in Russia.

The portal reported that legislators endorsed the bill on Tuesday during its initial reading, securing 83 votes in favor. The law's revival was spearheaded by the Georgian Dream party, which commands a majority in the 150-seat parliament. Following extensive protests and disapproval from Western entities last year, the party had previously shelved plans to introduce the new law.

A Massive Gathering in Georgia's Streets

Despite the resurgence of large-scale protests, the Georgian Dream party remains steadfast, dismissing critiques and calls from the USA, EU, and international bodies as "interference in domestic affairs."

Significant demonstrations erupted in Tbilisi's heart on Monday and Tuesday, leading to arrests and the deployment of tear gas by the police. Reports also emerged of journalists and protestors being assaulted.

Georgia under the Shadow of Russia?

Although officially committed to a path of European integration, the Georgian Dream party, now in its third tenure and eyeing another victory in the upcoming fall elections, faces accusations of leaning towards Russian affinity. President Salome Zurabishvili recently dubbed the Georgian Dream "Russia's dream."

Implications of Georgia's "Russian Law"

Dubbed the "Russian law" due to its resemblance to Russian legislation, the proposed law on foreign agents mandates that organizations receiving over 20 percent of their funding from foreign sources register and be classified in a special registry of foreign influence agents.

Entities from the USA, EU, and UN have voiced their concerns about the reactivation of the law, urging Georgian officials to abandon the initiative. They argue that it contradicts Georgia's European ambitions and hinders the European integration process. In December 2023, Georgia was recently granted candidate status to join the European Union.

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