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Georgian parliament defies president’s veto, approves Russain-style ‘foreign agents’ law

Georgian parliament ignored president’s remarks and overrode her veto on controversial “foreign agents” law similar to Russia’s.
ft eu freeze georgias accession bid enacts russianstyle foreign agents bill rally georgia front parliaments building 15 may 2024 protesting kiur kaasikdelfi georgiaprotestsmaidan
Rally in Georgia in front of the Parliament’s building on 15 May 2024 protesting the “foreign agents” bill. Photo: Kiur Kaasik/Delfi
Georgian parliament defies president’s veto, approves Russain-style ‘foreign agents’ law

Georgia’s parliament has pushed through a controversial “foreign agents” law analogous to Russian legislation, overriding a presidential veto amid vocal protests.

On 28 May, 66 Georgian MPs voted to disregard objections from President Salome Zourabichvili and pass the “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence”. 84 deputies supported overturning the veto, with only 4 opposed, according to RFE/RL’s Ekho Kavkaza.

The law, introduced by the ruling Georgian Dream party, has faced criticism for potentially stifling civil society, similar to events in Russia. Its adoption led to record protests and condemnation from Georgia’s foreign partners. The US has proposed sanctions against officials responsible for the bill, while the EU warned that Georgia’s accession efforts could be halted if it adopts a “foreign agents” law.

Georgia’s Foreign Agents law: Russia’s new frontline in its war against freedom in the world

Per Georgia’s constitution, the law now goes to the president who can sign and publish it within 5 days. If she refuses, the parliament speaker will sign and publish it within that timeframe.

Echo Kavkaza reports the divisive “foreign agents” law could take effect in Georgia as early as June. Within two months, relevant bodies must adopt bylaws, with the Justice Ministry conducting preliminary logistical measures for implementation.

Reportedly, from August onwards, media and NGOs receiving over 20% of their 2023 income from abroad must register with the Justice House as “conducting interests of a foreign force” within a month or face fines. The Justice Ministry can monitor such groups and access personal data to enforce compliance.

The vote occurred amid mass protests by opponents of the law outside parliament. Last year, large demonstrations and clashes with police led the ruling Georgian Dream party to withdraw a previous version, but they pressed ahead despite international criticism this time.

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