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Georgia: Parliamentary debate and protests over spy law – News

  • The Georgian government is sticking to its planned “agents” law despite massive protests.
  • This stipulates that organizations that receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad must register as foreign agents.
  • Opponents of the bill see parallels to similar Russian laws targeting the work of civil and human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations.

The MPs should debate the controversial draft in a first reading on Tuesday, as Parliament announced.

The first attempt for the 2023 law failed

The opposition in Georgia called for renewed mass demonstrations after over 5,000 people protested in front of parliament on Monday against the passage of the law.

Demonstrators in Tbilisi (04/15/24)

Legend:

On Monday, thousands took to the streets in the capital Tbilisi to demonstrate against the draft law (Tbilisi, 04/15/24).

AP Photo/Zurab Tsertsvadze

Emotions also ran high within the plenary hall when an opposition MP hit the parliamentary group leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party during his speech.

In March 2023, the government initially gave up on a first attempt at the law after violent protests. but then recently dared to reissue it again.

Fear of Russian conditions

Opponents accuse her of authoritarian and pro-Russian tendencies, a sensitive issue in the former Soviet republic, whose breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia are supported by Russia.

Person holds up poster with the inscription “No to Russia”;  behind it Georgian and EU flags

Legend:

Many who take to the streets in Tbilisi fear that Georgia is moving in a similar direction to Russia. Instead, they are calling for rapprochement with Europe. (Tbilisi, 04/15/24)

EPA/DAVID MDZINARISHVILI

The government counters that it wants to use the law to promote transparency and combat “pseudo-liberal values” imposed by foreigners.

The country in the South Caucasus with its 3.7 million inhabitants has been a candidate for EU membership since December 2023. At the same time, the government in Tbilisi also maintains close relations with Russia.

Germany, the USA and Great Britain called on the government to drop its plans for the law. The European Union described the draft as incompatible with the values ​​of the international community.

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