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Politico: US plan to impose sanctions on Georgian officials to “defend democracy,” leaked bill says

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
Politico: US plan to impose sanctions on Georgian officials to “defend democracy,” leaked bill says

The US Congress may introduce asset freezes and travel bans for Georgian officials, pushing forward Russian-style “foreign agents” law, as per Politico.

The bill, which was approved by the Georgian parliament last week, was subsequently vetoed by President Salome Zourabichvili.

Now, it requires a majority of deputies to vote it for a final time in the coming days. Under the law, NGOs and independent media that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign donors are required to register as organizations “bearing the interests of a foreign power.”

Failure to do so would have resulted in fines. Georgian opponents of the bill dubbed it “the Russian law”, comparing it to legislation used to target critics of President Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

A preliminary version of the legislation, reviewed by Politico, suggests that the ruling Georgian Dream party has adopted a strategy of accommodation with Russia as part of a shift towards increasingly illiberal tendencies.

Furthermore, the legislation notes that Tbilisi “has openly attacked the US and other Western democracy promotion organizations as well as local and international civil society while embracing increased ties with Russia in particular, as well as China.”

South Carolina Republican Representative Joe Wilson will introduce the bill as soon as 20 May, sources say.

As part of an effort to protect and uphold democracy, the proposed law would demand imposing sanctions against government officials and others responsible for undermining human rights or security in Georgia.

Additionally, the penalties would apply to Georgian law enforcement and security services, who have cracked down on protests against the foreign agent legislation. In response to tens of thousands of people taking to the streets in protest, authorities have used tear gas, water cannons, and force to demonstrators.

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