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Russian ‘foreign agents’ ask authorities in Georgia not to adopt its own ‘foreign agent’ law

Source: Pavel Chikov

Dozens of Russian journalists, activists, musicians, and public figures — all of whom are have been designated “foreign agents” by the Russian government — have signed an appeal to the parliament of Georgia, asking lawmakers there not to adopt an analogous law.

Pavel Chikov, head of the internal human rights organization Agora, published excerpts from the letter. It has 82 signatories, including musician Andrey Makarevich, writer and political satirist Viktor Shenderovich, political scientist Ekaterina Shulman, television host and opposition activist Mikhail Shats, actress Tatyana Lazareva, businessman Boris Zimin, Pussy Riot founder Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, artist and activist Pytor Verzilov, investigative journalist Roman Dobrokhotov, journalist Karèn Shainyan, journalist Anton Dolin, art collector Marat Gelman, and Ukrainian film director Alexander Rodnyansky.

Inclusion on the list of foreign agents in Russia means civic death. Campaigns to discredit [us], the risk of fines, and criminal persecution make it practically impossible to continue meaningful social activity in today’s Russia.

We welcome the decision by the majority of the parliament of Georgia not to proceed with adopting the law on foreign agents, which is similar to its Russian counterpart. We write to you to clarify the function of this law in Russia, from unexpected inspections of non-profits in 2012, to the almost total destruction of Russian civil society by 2023. We’re doing this so that similar laws are not adopted in Georgia, or anywhere else.

Since March 7, Tbilisi has seen mass protests against a proposed law on “foreign agents.” Demonstrators attempted to enter the parliament building and chanted “no to the Russian law.” Police forcibly dispersed protests with water cannons and tear gas.

On March 9, the ruling coalition in Georgia said it would withdraw the bill, though it’s not clear how this will happen, since the bill was passed in its first reading.

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