Georgia Withdraws The Controversial ‘Foreign Agents’ Law After Two Nights Of Violent Protests In Capital Tbilisi
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Tens of thousands of Georgians occupied the main thoroughfare of their capital, Tbilisi, this week to protest against a Russian-style draft law that would label some nongovernmental groups and media outlets “foreign agents.” Facing backlash, the Georgian government decided on Thursday, March 9, 2023, to put the passage of this controversial law through parliament on hold, stating that it intended to “better explain to the public what the bill [is] for, and why it is important”— but protests are set to continue for a third night, in the video published on March 9, 2023, by Yahoo News, as “Thousands protest ‘foreign agents’ law in Georgia“, below:
Fights broke out in the Georgian parliament on Thursday, 2 March, over a controversial “foreign agents” bill backed by the ruling party. Critics have said the draft law, which would require organisations receiving more than 20 per cent of their funding from overseas to register as “foreign agents” or face fines, represents an authoritarian shift in the country. Protesters disrupted Thursday’s committee hearings and physical fights broke out between opposition lawmakers and those from the ruling Georgian Dream party, who have said they will support the bill, in the video published on March 3, 2023, by The independent, as “Fights break out in Georgian parliament over ‘foreign agents’ bill“, below:
Fistfights broke out among Georgian lawmakers Monday as a parliamentary committee debated a bill on “foreign agents” which critics say is modeled on draconian legislation in neighboring Russia. MORE: Video from inside the parliament building in the capital Tbilisi showed a brief but violent brawl between lawmakers after the chairman of the chamber’s legal affairs committee appeared to strike the leader of the United National Movement opposition party, which opposes the bill. The governing Georgian Dream bloc last month announced that it supported the legislation, which still needs to pass other approval stages before it can become law. The law would require organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from overseas to register as “foreign agents” and submit to monitoring by the justice ministry, or else face hefty fines. Critics have compared it to a 2012 Russian law, which has been steadily expanded since then and used to crack down on Russian civil society and independent media. They have cast the law as symbolic of an authoritarian shift in Georgia, in the video published on March 6, 2023, by Voice of America, as “Fight Over ‘RUssian-Inspired’ Foreign Agent Law Erupts in Georgia | VOA News“, below:
TBILISI: Georgia’s ruling party said on Thursday, March 9, 2023, it was dropping a bill on “foreign agents” after two nights of violent protests against what opponents said was a Russian-inspired authoritarian shift that imperilled hopes of the country joining the European Union. The Georgian Dream ruling party said in a statement it would “unconditionally withdraw the bill we supported without any reservations”. It cited the need to reduce “confrontation” in society, while also denouncing “lies” told about the bill by the “radical opposition”. The bill would have required Georgian organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as “foreign agents” or face fines. Georgian Dream had previously said the law was necessary to unmask critics of the Georgian Orthodox Church, one of the country’s most powerful institutions. The European Union’s delegation to Georgia praised the decision to withdraw the bill, writing on Twitter: “We welcome announcement by the ruling party to withdraw draft legislation on ‘foreign influence’. We encourage all political leaders in Georgia to resume pro-EU reforms, in an inclusive & constructive way”. At a joint briefing held by opposition parties after the bill was withdrawn, Giga Lemonjala, a representative of the Droa party, said that protests would continue until the government formally denounced the foreign agents bill, and released all those detained during protests. Parliament gave the draft law initial approval on Tuesday but tens of thousands of protesters then gathered outside parliament, and again on Wednesday. Some protesters threw petrol bombs, stones and plastic bottles at police. At least one window in the parliament building was broken, and a police car was overturned. Police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse the crowds, and said that 77 people were arrested during Tuesday’s protest. Opponents of the bill, including Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, who said she would use her veto if it crossed her desk, have compared it to a 2012 Russian law, which has been used to clamp down on dissent. The Georgian government says the legislation is modeled on U.S. foreign agent laws, in place since the 1930s. Georgia’s opposition has long criticized Georgian Dream for what it sees as excessive closeness to Moscow. Russia has backed separatists in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The bill had angered supporters of Georgian membership in the European Union, after EU officials condemned the draft law, and said it would complicate Georgia’s path to joining the bloc. Last year, the European Union declined to grant Georgia candidate status alongside Moldova and Ukraine, citing stalled political and judicial reforms, in the video published on March 9, 2023, by CNN-News 18, as “Georgia Withdraws Foreign Agent Bill After Days Of Protests | Georgia News Live Today | News 18“, below:
Georgia has withdrawn the controversial ‘foreign agents’ law after two nights of violent protests in the country. Earlier, Police resorted to baton charges, tear gas and water cannons to disperse massive protests in Georgian capital Tbilisi. Critics say the law is ‘pro-Russian’ and could harm its EU bid, in the video published on March 9, 2023, by TIMES NOW, as “Georgia Unrest Live: Country Withdraws Controversial ‘Foreign Agents’ Law Amid Nationwide Protests“, below:
So, what is the proposed ‘Foreign Agents’ law of Georgia? Please refer to the excerpt from wikipedia, 2023 Georgian protests, in italics, below:
The 2023 Georgian protests are an ongoing series of street demonstrations taking place throughout Georgia from March 2023 onwards, over parliamentary backing of a proposed “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence”, which requires the NGOs to register as “agents of foreign influence” if the funds they receive from abroad amount to more than 20% of their total revenue. Police have been reported as using water cannons and tear gas to disperse the protests, especially in the capital Tbilisi.
More specifically, this proposed ‘Foreign Agents’ Law, according to yahoo!news, means, in italics, below:
– Individuals, civil society organizations and media outlets that receive 20% of their funding from abroad would have been required to register as an “agent of foreign influence” with the Georgian Justice Ministry.
– Organizations would have to meet what Human Rights Watch described as “onerous reporting requirements and inspections” and would face fines of up to 25,000 Georgian lari ($9,600) for failing to comply, with prison sentences of up to five years for repeated offenses.
– Swathes of Georgian civil society, including election monitors, corruption watchdogs and independent media outlets would have been covered by the law.
– Rights groups say the “foreign agent” tag is a designed to make it easier for the government to discredit its opponents.
Georgian officials said the proposed legislation was necessary for Georgians to have the right to know who funds non-government organizations (NGOs) and to root out foreign influence and spies. Supposedly, it is modeled after the U.S. 1938 “Foreign Agents Registration Act“, which mainly covers lobbyists and organizations working for or under the control of foreign governments. Opponents of the proposed Georgian legislation said it was inspired by a 2012 Russian law that was used extensively to crack down on dissent for the past decade. Some 400 Georgian NGOs signed a letter saying that the bill was “an attack on Georgian values” and would “hinder Georgia’s progress towards EU membership”. Georgian lawmakers brawled during a hearing on this legislation this week and tens of thousands of people protested, chanting, “no to the Russian law”. The U.S. State Department said Washington was “deeply troubled” by this legislation and rejected comparisons with U.S.’s legislation.
Georgia Erupts in Fierce Protests Against Government’s “Russian” Law | Vantage with Palki Sharma. Georgia’s capital erupts in protest over the government’s ‘foreign agent’ law, which critics say is inspired by Russia. Dramatic visuals from Tbilisi show law enforcement authorities using water canons against protesters. Palki Sharma brings you the whole story, in the video published on March 8, 2023, by Firstpost, as “Georgia Erupts in Fierce Protests Against Government’s “Russian” Law| Vantage with Palki Sharma“, below:
Thousands of people staged a second straight day of protests in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, rallying outside parliament against a “foreign agents” law which critics say signals an authoritarian shift, in the video published on March 8, 2023, by FRANCE 24 English, as “Protesters clash with police in Georgia for second day over new ‘foreign agents’ law . FRANCE 24“, below:
Georgia was gearing up for fresh protests on Wednesday, a day after police used tear gas and water cannon against thousands of demonstrators in the capital Tbilisi demanding a controversial “foreign agents” bill be axed. The law would impose registration requirements on media and NGOs with ties abroad and has been described as “Kremlin-inspired” because it is strikingly similar to a 2012 law adopted by Russia that allows authorities to crack down on NGOs, media outlets and others deemed “foreign agents”. The demonstration on Tuesday took place after Georgian lawmakers gave their initial backing to the draft law, which would threaten the country’s bid to join the EU. A fight reportedly broke out at one point among lawmakers, in the video published on March 8, 2023, by The Telegraph, as “Georgia protests: fighting erupts over ‘Russia-style’ foreign agents bill“, below:
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