Amid violent protests, the Georgian parliament has introduced a controversial regulation on “foreign agents”. On Monday, there was a fight in parliament between MPs from the ruling party Georgian Dream and the opposition. The majority of MPs now voted in favor of the draft law “On the Transparency of Foreign Influence”.
The law requires organizations that receive at least 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as foreign proxies. They must also submit to the supervision of the Ministry of Justice. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili showed solidarity with the protesters and immediately announced that she would veto the law. However, this can be overruled by Parliament.
Between EU accession and Russian role models
Thousands of people protested against the project on the streets of the capital Tbilisi into the evening. In front of the parliament in Tbilisi, the police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the protest. According to eyewitnesses, some demonstrators threw bottles and firecrackers at the police officers. “I came here because I know my country belongs to Europe, but my government doesn’t understand that,” said 30-year-old protester Demetre Shanshiashvili.
Critics see the text of the law as a Russian model and fear it could jeopardize Georgia’s EU prospects. In Russia, numerous independent media – but also non-governmental organizations – have already been branded “foreign agents” by decision. The regulation has been criticized internationally as a politically motivated measure aimed at stigmatizing and silencing critics of the Kremlin.