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Georgia President Overruled, Lawmakers Move Forward with 'Russian Law'

by SuperiorInvest

Demonstrators protesting against the “foreign influence” law gather in front of the parliament building in central Tbilisi on May 28, 2024.

Vain Shlamov | afp | fake images

Georgian lawmakers voted Tuesday to override a presidential veto of a Russian-style “foreign agents” law, advancing legislation that has sparked international condemnation and large-scale protests in the South Caucasus nation.

The United States, the European Union, NATO and the United Nations have expressed concern about the bill, which critics say could jeopardize Georgia's chances of joining the EU and push the country back into Russia's orbit. .

The foreign agents law requires the country's media outlets, nonprofits and other non-governmental organizations to declare that they are “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources.

Russia, which occupies about 20% of Georgia's internationally recognized territory, has used similar legislation to crack down on independent media and activists critical of the Kremlin.

Georgian President Salom√© Zourabichvili vetoed the controversial legislation on May 18, stating on social media platform X that the “fundamentally Russian” law represents “an obstacle to our European path.”

Zourabichvili, a critic of the ruling Georgian Dream government, has called for the law to be repealed.

The Georgian Dream party has insisted the legislation is necessary, even though the law sparked some of the largest demonstrations the country has seen since declaring independence from the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has said the bill will create “strong guarantees” to help ensure lasting peace in the country.

'A very sad day for Georgia'

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Tuesday's vote marked “a very sad day for Georgia and the rest of Europe.”

“The passage of this law effectively puts Georgia's accession to the EU on hold, to no benefit to anyone,” Landsbergis said in X.

“The adoption of this law negatively impacts Georgia's progress on the path towards the EU,” European Union Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on May 15.

“The choice of the way forward is in Georgia's hands. We urge the Georgian authorities to withdraw the law, remain committed to the EU path and advance the necessary reforms detailed in the nine steps. The EU is ready to follow supporting Georgians working towards a European future,” he added.

Separately, the United States has said it was “deeply concerned” by Georgia's decision to pass “Kremlin-style 'foreign agent' legislation.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a May 14 briefing that the law would force the United States to “fundamentally reevaluate” its relationship with Georgia.

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