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Georgian parliament paves way to Russian-style law amid growing protests

Georgia continues path to adoption of law criticized for enabling the crushing of civil society in Russia
Protests in Georgia
Protests against the foreign agents law continue at Georgia’s Parliament in Tbilisi ahead of the hearing of the legal committee. 13 May 2024. Photo: Guram Muradov/Civil.ge
Georgian parliament paves way to Russian-style law amid growing protests

In the morning of 13 May, the Georgian parliament’s legal committee approved the controversial bill on foreign agents, criticized for being a copy of Russian legislature that allowed to repress civil society.

This signals that Georgia’s government intends to go through with adopting the law despite strong protests, which have been ongoing since April. The bill is slated to be approved after a plenary hearing on 14 May, followed by an anticipated veto by pro-EU Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, which can nevertheless be overridden by the parliament.

MPs from Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party reviewed and approved the law in a mere 67 seconds while opposition MPs reported being delayed by the police. In front of the parliament, police had pushed away protesters from an overnight rally, with cases of tear gas and use of force reported.

Georgia protests  foreign agent law
Protesters hold a night sit-in pn 13 May 2024 in front of the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi ahead of the planned legal committee hearing on the “foreign agent” law. Photo:
Guram Muradov, civil.ge
Georgia protests
Protesters hold a night sit-in pn 13 May 2024 in front of the Georgian Parliament in Tbilisi ahead of the planned legal committee hearing on the “foreign agent” law. Photo:
Guram Muradov, civil.ge

Opposition MPs slammed the law and the opaque manner in which it passed the legal committee. Independent MP Teona Akubardia claimed that Georgian Dream head, Russian-Georgian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili “introduced a law that would end democracy in the country, and its European and Euro-Atlantic future.”

Georgian police reported detaining 20 protesters on charges of hooliganism and disobeying police, among them one Russian and two American nationals.

Footage circulated by Georgian media showed police pushing and kicking protesters as they sought to clear the entrances to parliament.

Groups of students from universities around Georgia have have boycotted classes in protest of the foreign agent bill, with the University of Georgia suspending studies for a week, OC media reported.

In Tbilisi, large numbers of students from all major universities are holding protest marches; some of them have already joined protesters outside the parliament.

The legal committee’s approval comes on the heels of record protests against the adoption of the law.

More about the background of the protests: 

From Rose Revolution to “Russian Dream”: Georgia at breaking point with pivotal pro-EU protests

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