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The conflict over the draft law has intensified in Georgia

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As of: April 29, 2024 9:39 pm

A law intended to impose greater control on influence from abroad is dividing Georgia: first tens of thousands of opponents of the plans took to the streets, now the government has organized a counter-demonstration.

In Georgia, in the South Caucasus, a domestic political dispute over legislation designed to curb foreign influence is coming to a head. The ruling Georgian Dream party, which is promoting the law, rallied tens of thousands of supporters in central Tbilisi. Media reports speak of more than 100,000 people being brought to the capital by bus from all parts of the country.

It was a reaction to mass protests against the law, which, according to its opponents, should be used to control civil society, as in Russia. There was a clash with the police during the protest on Sunday evening. The Legal Affairs Committee of the Georgian Parliament has now prepared the second reading of the controversial law. 14 opposition MPs were expelled during the session.

Misapplication of the law is feared – based on the Russian model

The plan, criticized as a “Russian law,” would require non-governmental organizations that receive money from abroad to disclose these sources of funding. According to its own statements, the Georgian government wants to ensure greater transparency and more closely control the level of foreign influence. Many civil society and democracy development projects in Georgia are funded by Western countries, including money from the European Union and the United States.

However, critics fear that such Russian-style legislation could be misused to stem this flow of money and politically harass pro-Western powers.

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The former Soviet republic of Georgia is oriented toward the West and is a candidate for EU membership. The Georgian Dream government is also in favor of rapprochement with the EU, but at the same time cozying up to Russia. Party stalwart Bidzina Ivanishvili today accused the West of using Georgia, like Ukraine, as cannon fodder in its fight against Moscow.

Harsh criticism of the EU's draft law

The EU and many of its member states have strongly criticized the law on so-called foreign agents. The party-based political foundations of the CDU, SPD, Greens and FDP operating in Georgia warned against the adoption. “If this law is passed, it will significantly restrict the work of Georgian civil society and independent media, which have contributed enormously to Georgia's democratization process,” it said in a statement.

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