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Protests, brawls as Georgia adopts Russian-style “foreign agents” law

Adoption expected to have a chilling effect on both civil soceity and Georgia’s Eurointegration
Georgia protests foreign agents law
Protesters decry the adoption of the “foreign agents” law at the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi on 14 May 2024. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.
Protests, brawls as Georgia adopts Russian-style “foreign agents” law

As predicted, the Georgian parliament adopted a Russian-style “foreign agents” law on 14 May amid growing protests and police violence.

The law will make it obligatory for any media or nonprofit organization that receives more than 20% of its funding from abroad to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power.” Failure to do so would result in fines. Georgian opponents of the bill have dubbed it “the Russian law”, comparing it to legislation used to target critics of President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

Ahead of the vote, Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, saw record round-the-clock protests. Yesterday, the law was sped through the legal committee, with opposition MPs reportedly blocked from attending.

Georgia protests parliament tbilisi foreign agent law
Georgian protesters against the adopted “foreign agent” law stand in flags of Georgia and the EU as riot police prepare water cannons. 14 May 2024. Photo: Marika Mikiashvili

President Salome Zourabichvili is expected to veto the bill. However, the veto will likely be overridden in parliament, where the ruling Georgian Dream party holds 75 seats out of 150.

The vote comes amid criticism of Georgia’s growing Russian shift, powered by the Georgian-Russian oligarch and Georgian Dream leader Bidzina Ivanishvili. With a net worth of 32% of Georgia’s GDP, Ivanishvili holds considerable power over Georgian political and economic life, and critics have denounced the country’s growing authoritarianism.

Currently, the standoff between riot police and protesters is growing: riot police use pepper spray and water cannons to disperse protesters.

Georgian opinion leaders are appealing to the EU to impose sanctions on Bidzina Ivanishvili and Georgian Dream MPs amid international criticism of the law’s passage.

Read more about how Georgia went from the pro-EU Rose Revolution to anti-western tirades of its ruling party, Georgian Dream: 

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

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