Despite mass protests: Georgia's parliament approves controversial law on "foreign agents"

In Georgia, parliament passed the controversial law classifying certain organizations as “foreign agents” – despite weeks of mass protests.

Despite mass protests: Georgia's parliament approves controversial law on "foreign agents"

In Georgia, parliament passed the controversial law classifying certain organizations as “foreign agents” – despite weeks of mass protests. Warnings from the EU and other supporters of the small country in the South Caucasus were also ignored when MPs in Tbilisi finally voted for the draft on Tuesday. According to the Rustavi-2 television channel, 84 MPs voted for it, 30 MPs voted against it.

The governing majority of the Georgian Dream party is thus tightening the accountability of non-governmental organizations that receive more than 20 percent of money from abroad. They must register as “agents of foreign influence”. She justifies this with greater transparency. President Salome Zurabishvili has announced that she will veto the regulations.

Critics see parallels to a similar law in Russia, with which the government there takes action against the opposition and parts of society. Hundreds of thousands of opponents of the regulation, dubbed “Russian law,” fear that, like in Russia, critical organizations will be silenced. With the authoritarian course of Georgian Dream, they also see the ex-Soviet republic's desired EU accession at risk. There have been repeated calls from Brussels for the government to withdraw the law.

The peaceful demonstrations on the part of the protest movement in Tbilisi have been going on for weeks. Demonstrators also gathered in front of Parliament on Tuesday night.

The day before, the police had used force to push the crowd away from the building in the center. According to police, there were around 20 arrests. According to the opposition, several of those arrested were ill-treated.

The dispute over the law is seen as a guideline for whether Georgia, which has traditionally maintained good relations with the West, will continue to work towards membership in the European Union and NATO or instead want to strengthen relations with Russia.

Georgia is located on Russia's southern border and therefore on an important global political frontline. A majority of the population wants to break away from Russia; The desired accession to the EU and NATO is in the constitution. The country has had EU candidate status since last December. At the same time, Moscow controls the breakaway Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which it has recognized as independent states. Georgian dream with the shadowy billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili as a strongman champions close ties with Moscow.

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