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Georgia: the government promises a vote on Tuesday for the criticized law on “foreign influence”

The Georgian Prime Minister has promised that Parliament will vote on the bill on 'foreign influence' on Tuesday, despite the government's decision to vote on the bill on 'foreign influence'. mass demonstrations denouncing a text diverting the country from Europe and leading it towards Moscow.

“Parliament will act tomorrow according to the will of the majority of the population and will adopt the law in third reading”, declared Irakli Kobakhidze, during a televised speech.

“Faced with unjustified compromise and loss of sovereignty, Georgia will share Ukraine's fate. No one outside Georgia can prevent us from protecting our national interests”, he insisted, raising fears of a war like that between kyiv and Moscow.

He also assured that the passage of this law would open the door to other texts on “uncontrolled immigration” or the rights of LGBT+ people, in a country that is still conservative.

A thousand demonstrators, mostly young, remained until late Monday night in front of the Georgian parliament against this text, at the end of a day of peaceful demonstration, with families, and few security forces. visible order.

Many demonstrators then dispersed, while planning a new demonstration on Tuesday around 10:00 GMT. “They are going to adopt this law and we must protest,” explained a 57-year-old doctor, Levan Abalishvili.

The bill is strongly criticized by the states -United States and the European Union to which Georgia, a former Soviet republic, is a candidate for membership.

Washington reaffirmed its opposition to the bill. “We urge the Georgian government to continue on the path of integration into the European Union” and to act in a way that is “compatible” with it, the spokesperson for the Department of Georgia told the press. State Vedant Patel, considering that the law was “incompatible with these declared objectives”.

This project sparked massive opposition rallies, some of which were repressed. Protesters, who have been demonstrating since early April, have nicknamed it the “Russian law”, because it imitates legislation used by the Kremlin to repress dissenting voices.

Georgia: the government promises a vote on Tuesday for the criticized law on “foreign influence”

Nikoloz Samkharadze, elected official from the ruling “Georgian Dream” party, during an interview with AFP, May 13, 2024 in Tbilisi, Georgia © AFP – Vano SHLAMOV

“This law means that we will not join Europe,” Mariam Kalandadzé, a 22-year-old demonstrator, worried to AFP on Monday, but “it's something that I always wanted to.”

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday, some staying all night to prevent MPs from entering parliament.

– Fears –

At dawn, the AFP saw police violently arresting a group of demonstrators.

Georgia: the government promises a vote on Tuesday for the criticized law on “foreign influence”

Police officers block protesters opposed to the controversial “foreign influence” bill near the parliament in Tbilisi, Georgia on May 13, 2024. © AFP – Giorgi ARJEVANIDZE

The rallies are taking place in a climate of tension, with the authorities having warned that they will arrest people blocking the parliament.

Since the beginning, those under 30 have constituted the majority spearhead of the movement. But many assure that their elders are also convinced.

“We always knew that we were part of Europe. All generations know that”, declared Artchil Svanidzé, a 26-year-old demonstrator proud to say that his father remained demonstrating for a good part of the night.

Salomé Lobjanidzé, 18 years old, she said “ravaged” by the law. “If it passes, many people who are here today will leave” the country, she predicted.

Georgia: the government promises a vote on Tuesday for the criticized law on “foreign influence”

Demonstration against the controversial bill on “foreign influence” near the parliament in Tbilisi, May 13, 2024 in Georgia © AFP – Vano SHLAMOV

The European Union, which granted Georgia official candidate status in December 2023, welcomed the “impressive commitment” of Georgians to European integration and urged Tbilisi to investigate acts of violence against demonstrators that have been reported.

“We strongly condemn acts of intimidation, threats and physical attacks,” Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the EU diplomatic service, said on Monday.

– “Transparency” or repression –

If adopted, the law will impose on any NGO or media organization receiving more than 20% of its funding from abroad to register as an “organization pursuing the interests of a foreign power”.

Georgia: the government promises a vote on Tuesday for the criticized law on “foreign influence”

The European flag during a demonstration against the controversial bill on “foreign influence” near the parliament in Tbilisi, on May 13, 2024 in Georgia © AFP – Vano SHLAMOV

The government assures that this measure aims to force organizations to demonstrate greater “transparency” regarding their funding.

Elected official Nikoloz Samkharadze, of the ruling Georgian Dream party, said the project had “nothing to do” with the criticized Russian law, also reaffirming his commitment to EU membership.

The law has already been approved during two readings, and requires a third vote.

President Salomé Zourabichvili, a pro-European in open conflict with the government, should veto it, but the Georgian Dream claims to have enough votes to override.

The ruling party had already tried to pass this law in 2023, before renouncing it already due to massive opposition rallies.

Bidzina Ivanichvili, extremely wealthy businessman perceived as the leader of the shadow of Georgia, sees NGOs as an internal enemy serving foreign powers.

This man, Prime Minister from 2012 to 2013 and today today honorary president of the Georgian Dream, is suspected of affinities with Russia, the country where he made his fortune.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116