- Share to or
Mass protests break out in Georgia after parliament approves first version of ‘foreign agents’ bill
On March 7, Georgia’s parliament adopted the first reading of a bill to establish a “foreign agents” registry. The bill, titled “On transparency of foreign influence,” received votes from 76 deputies and was opposed by 13, according to the news site Novosti-Gruzia. The proposed legislation would require all non-commercial legal entities and media agencies that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents.”
Lawmakers will vote on a second version of the bill on March 9. Under this version, titled “On the registration of foreign agents,” any individual or legal entities that receive any funding from abroad could be named “agents of foreign influence.”
Several thousand people gathered outside of Georgia’s parliament building to protest the “foreign influence” legislation. According to Meduza’s correspondent at the scene, Tbilisi police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters. They also reportedly used flashbang grenades. In response, protesters threw bottles, flares, and Molotov cocktails at police. After midnight Tbilisi time, protesters tried to break in to the parliament building. According to preliminary data from the Interior Ministry, six people were arrested.
Georgian president Salome Zourabichvili expressed support for the protesters. On the evening of March 7, she addressed the protesters from New York, where she’s currently on an official visit, and vowed to veto parliament’s “foreign agents” law. “This won’t happen today or tomorrow, but the bill should be recalled [from parliament],” Zourabichvili said.
The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi called the day “a dark day for Georgia’s democracy.”
Parliament’s advancing of these Kremlin-inspired laws is incompatible with the people of Georgia’s clear desire for European integration and its democratic development. Pursuing these laws will damage Georgia’s relations with its strategic partners and undermine the important work of so many Georgian organizations working to help their fellow citizens. The process and the draft laws raise real questions about the ruling party’s commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration.
- Share to or