Georgian parliament defies president’s veto and passes Russian-style ‘foreign agents’ law

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

On May 28, 66 Georgian parliamentarians voted to ignore President Salome Zourabichvili’s objections and adopt the “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence.” According to RFE/RL’s Ekho Kavkaza, 84 deputies were in favor of overturning the veto, while only four were against.

The law, introduced by the ruling Georgian Dream Party, has faced criticism for potentially stifling civil society, similar to events in Russia. Its adoption sparked protests and condemnations 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 the country were to pass a “foreign agents” law, with the option to reverse the decision.

Georgia’s Foreign Agents Law: Russia’s New Front Line in Its War on World Freedom

Under the Georgian constitution, the law now goes to the president, who can sign and publish it within five days. If she refuses, the Speaker of Parliament will sign and publish it within that period.

Echo Kavkaza reports that the divisive ‘foreign agents’ law could come into effect in Georgia as early as June. Within two months, the relevant authorities must adopt statutes, with the Ministry of Justice taking preparatory logistical measures for implementation.

Reportedly, media and NGOs that receive more than 20% of their income from abroad in 2023 will have to register with the Court from August as “representing the interests of a foreign armed forcewithin a month, otherwise they risk fines. The Department of Justice can monitor such groups and access personal data to enforce compliance.

The vote took place amid mass protests by opponents of the law outside parliament. Last year, large demonstrations and clashes with police prompted the ruling Georgian Dream party to withdraw an earlier version, but this time they pushed ahead despite international criticism.

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