Georgia Parliament approves 'Russian law'

The Parliament of Georgia approved yesterday the controversial law "on the transparency of foreign influence" despite the rejection of the opposition, a large part of the citizens and the West, who compare it with the one used by the Kremlin to appease the opposition.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
14 May 2024 Tuesday 23:13
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Georgia Parliament approves 'Russian law'

The Parliament of Georgia approved yesterday the controversial law "on the transparency of foreign influence" despite the rejection of the opposition, a large part of the citizens and the West, who compare it with the one used by the Kremlin to appease the opposition

The law was approved in third reading with 83 votes in favor and 30 votes against, as the ruling party, Georgian Dream, has a majority in the Caucasian country's legislature. Hundreds of people gathered in front of Parliament, where the discussions were not without fights between pro-government MPs and opponents who demanded the withdrawal of the bill. "Russian slaves!", protestors reacted to the exit of pro-government deputies. Shortly after, there were thousands of demonstrators blocking the center of the capital.

The United National Movement, the most important opposition party, suspended its participation in Parliament after the approval of the so-called Russian law. "We suspend the activities in the Parliament and in the local assemblies, where we have more than 500 representatives", announced its president, Levan Khabeishvili, whose formation has 20 of the 150 seats in the Parliament, calling on the citizens to "fight for a European future".

The Prime Minister, Irakli Kobakhidze, explained the law to the Undersecretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, James O'Brien, yesterday. Members of the opposition also met with O'Brien. "All options are on the table for the United States," said opposition deputy Tinatin Bokutxava after the meeting, adding that among those options is the adoption of sanctions against Somni's honorary president, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili , the deputies who supported the law and the heads of the security forces who dispersed the protests. Washington urged Georgia to "change course" and O'Brien himself said that if the authorities do not adjust the law to democratic standards, there will be "restrictions" from the US. The spokeswoman for the White House, Karine, said that "we hope that the president - Salomé Zurabixvili - will impose her veto". She already announced that she would do so.

The law provides for the annual publication of declarations by oenagés and media whose budget is made up of more than 20% of foreign contributions. The Government explains the need for the law by saying that more than 80% of these revenues are not transparent and can be used to destabilize before the next parliamentary elections on October 26.