Laws and Justice

A Controversial Move Amidst Political Turmoil and International Concerns

Main image to the post A Controversial Move Amidst Political Turmoil and International Concerns

Georgia's Controversial 'Foreign Agent' Law Passes Amidst Chaos

The Georgian parliament witnessed a chaotic scene on Tuesday as lawmakers engaged in a physical brawl before ultimately passing a controversial "foreign agent" bill. Despite the commotion, the legislation was approved in its final reading by a majority vote.

The bill, officially titled "On The Transparency of Foreign Influence," mandates Georgian non-profit organizations, media outlets, and individuals receiving more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as entities "promoting the interests of a foreign power." They are also required to disclose their income and donors, with non-compliance punishable by a fine of up to $9,500.

The parliamentary session descended into chaos as a heated debate erupted, leading to a physical altercation involving several dozen lawmakers. This marked the third time discussions surrounding the bill devolved into violence, with a previous brawl occurring earlier this month.

Protests against the legislation have been ongoing outside the parliament building, with police repeatedly dispersing the demonstrators. Critics have likened the bill to a similar law in Russia that requires foreign-funded organizations to register as "foreign agents."

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has voiced support for the protesters and vowed to veto the bill. However, her veto can be overridden by a simple majority in Parliament, rendering her action largely symbolic.

The United States and the European Union have expressed concerns about the bill, claiming it would hinder the work of many foreign NGOs. Brussels has warned Tbilisi that passing the bill could jeopardize its EU candidate status.

Proponents of the law, however, argue that similar legislation exists in the US. Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has described the bill as a "necessary condition" for Georgia's EU accession by enhancing transparency.

The head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, has defended the bill as a means to protect the country from foreign-funded protests, radical political parties, and propagandistic media.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09