Helena Lyng Blak
1 week ago

Unrest in Georgia As Parliament Passes Controversial ‘Russian Law’

Georgia faces widespread protests as parliament adopts a new law.
Tbilisi, Georgia - 25th february, 2021: Hundred years anniversary event on Tbilisi. Protestors by parliament building on anniversary event. — Photo by evaldas.lp@gmail.com
Tbilisi, Georgia - 25th february, 2021: Hundred years anniversary event on Tbilisi. Protestors by parliament building on anniversary event. — Photo by evaldas.lp@gmail.com

On Tuesday afternoon, local time, May 14, 2024, the Parliament of Georgia passed its controversial ‘foreign influence’ bill amid significant opposition from both the country’s population and president. 

The legislation requires media and non-commercial organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from other countries will need to register as ‘foreign agents’.

The bill is commonly referred to as the ‘Russian Law’ by critics due to its similarity to a piece of 2012 Russian legislation that has been used to close media critical of the Kremlin as well as NGO chapters and organizations. 

Those in opposition to the Georgian bill fear that the same will happen if the legislation is implemented in the country. 

The bill was passed despite major protests taking place throughout the last month.

The bill was expected to pass during the morning session but was delayed after the final debate in Parliament was interrupted when a physical fight broke out between the opposing sides, Danmarks Radio writes. 

This is not the first time the bill has led to actual violence in parliament. Three weeks ago, a member of the opposition, Aleko Elisashvili, punched majority leader Mamuka Mdinaradze for supposedly being “pro-Russian”.

As the Parliament passed the bill, protests outside the Parliament building intensified, with police and demonstrators clashing. 

“Generally, I have to say that the mood has changed substantially in this group of protesters since it became clear that the bill has been passed inside,” said a Danmarks Radio correspondent present at the Tbilisi protests. 

“I feel like this law is going to destroy the European future my country has been fighting for,” one protester, Keti Matchavariani, told CNN on Tuesday, continuing, “I think that the Georgian government is trying to take something away from us, that we—the majority of us—are very desperate to have.”

Georgia’s President Salome Zourabichvili has sworn to veto the bill; however, that is primarily a “symbolic” action, the President told CNN. 

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