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The Georgian Parliament finally passed the bill on "foreign agents": why scandals erupted around it

Anna PaskevychWorld
84 deputies voted in favor, 30 voted against

On Tuesday, May 14, the Georgian parliament passed in the final, third reading the draft law on "foreign agents" that had previously provoked thousands of protests and criticism of the country's authorities. 84 out of 150 deputies voted in favor, while 30 voted against.

According to Georgian media reports, MPs once again fought before voting on the draft law "On Transparency of Foreign Influence." Some opposition MPs were removed from the hall, but this did not affect the final result. Meanwhile, protesters gathered near the parliament building in Tbilisi.

The Georgian Parliament finally passed the bill on ''foreign agents'': why scandals erupted around it

Deputies from Georgia's ruling party, in turn, left the parliament immediately after the vote under police guard.

In the parliament itself, the "yellow level" was again activated, the BBC reports. Only TV crews were allowed to attend the meeting, while journalists from print and online media (many of whom will be directly affected by the new law) were not allowed to attend.

The same rules applied during the first and second readings of the document.

On May 14, another rally gathered near the parliament on Rustaveli Avenue. Students who are actively involved in the protests marched to the building.

Why the law on "foreign agents" caused protests in Georgia

According to the new law, NGOs and media outlets that receive more than 20% of their annual income from foreign funding will have to register as "organizations that promote the interests of a foreign power."

Student movements are refusing to attend lectures in protest of the law on "foreign agents." Some professors and lecturers expressed solidarity with them.

The protesters see the new law as a threat not only to freedom of speech and civil society but also to the European integration of Georgia, which six months ago became a candidate for membership in the European Union.

The main slogan of the protests was "Yes to Europe. No to Russian law". Thus, in Georgia, the law on "foreign agents" is called "Russian", in particular, because it provides for a monitoring procedure that is not limited or defined, writes "Georgia Online".

As a reminder, Russia has had a similar law in place since 2012, according to which the status of "foreign agent" is granted to persons who, in the Kremlin's opinion, receive "foreign support" or are under "foreign influence." It was adopted in response to protests against the return of Vladimir Putin and aimed at restricting the activities of independent non-governmental organizations. The law has been criticized as restricting human rights.

Earlier, Georgian MP Giorgi Vashadze said in an interview with OBOZ.UA that the adoption of the law on "foreign agents" that Putin had "written off" would actually change the country's course. This document, according to the parliamentarian, is a clear "red line", crossing which Tbilisi will lose all achievements in European integration and strategic partnership with the US and the EU.

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