Amid mass protests, Georgia's parliament has withdrawn plans to classify foreign media and organizations as "agents". According to media reports, the Chamber of Deputies in Tbilisi rejected the controversial law on a second reading. At the same time, a new rally of pro-European demonstrators took place in front of the parliament building. Meanwhile, criticism of the Georgian leadership's withdrawal came from Moscow. The draft law was reminiscent of a Russian model. There have been protests against this for days.
The ruling party, the Georgian Dream, announced on Thursday that it would withdraw the draft. The triggers were protests with tens of thousands of participants, which continued even after the ruling party withdrew and arrested demonstrators were released. On Thursday evening numerous critics were again on the streets.
In the second reading, 35 MPs voted against the law, with only one yes vote. Many MPs from the ruling party who voted in favor of the law just a few days ago stayed away. The President of the Russian Parliament, Vyacheslav Volodin, criticized the repeal of the law. "By refraining from discussing it in parliament, Georgia missed its chance for sovereignty," Volodin wrote in his Telegram channel. Volodin accused the US of being behind the protests.
What does such a law look like in Russia?
In Russia, numerous independent media - but also non-governmental organizations - are branded as "foreign agents". The regulation has been criticized internationally as a politically motivated measure aimed at stigmatizing and silencing critics of the Kremlin. Especially since the start of the war of aggression against Ukraine ordered by President Vladimir Putin more than a year ago, Russia has been taking massive action against dissidents in its own country.
Volodin nonetheless claimed that the Russian law was far more liberal than a law that had governed control of foreign-funded organizations in the US since 1938. Critics in Tbilisi drew parallels between the Russian law and the Georgian draft. They accused the government of the relatively pro-Russian Georgian Dream party of paving the way towards authoritarianism. They also saw the EU prospects of the former Soviet republic in danger.