Thousands protest as Georgia passes controversial “foreign agent” bill

  • 14 May, 10:08

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Tbilisi on Tuesday as the Georgian parliament approved the controversial law on “foreign agents” despite domestic opposition and warning from the European Union.

The new bill requires any organization receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as “agents of foreign influence” or face large fines. In a vote on Tuesday, Georgian parliamentarians approved the bill by 84 votes in favor and 30 against. The voting was followed by large-scale protests in capital Tbilisi, with some protesters smashing down the barriers and breaking into the grounds of the parliament. Riots police moved on protesters.

After passing the bill, Georgia’s parliament now has 10 days to send it to President Salome Zourabichvili, who has already vowed to veto it. However, parliament can override the president’s objection with a simple majority.

Proposed by the ruling Georgia Dream Party, the bill was debated for weeks in the parliament. In one such debate last month, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Mamuka Mdinaradze was struck in the face by opposition MP Aleko Elisashvili while speaking at the podium about the new law. The opponents of the bill describe it as a Russian bill and believe it will put the South Caucasus country back into Moscow’s geopolitical orbit, while undermining the country’s EU integration. According to polls, Polls show that an estimated 80 percent of Georgians want to join the EUThe bill has been condemned by the European Union and the West. 

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