Georgia: the President and the Prime Minister argue over “Russian law”

Georgia: the President and the Prime Minister argue over “Russian law”
Georgia: the President and the Prime Minister argue over “Russian law”

A Georgian parliament committee on Monday rejected a presidential veto of “foreign agents” legislation that sparked massive protests for weeks. On Tuesday, the entire parliament could therefore override Salomé Zourabichvili’s blockage.

ADVERTISEMENT

Georgian President and Prime Minister exchange personal barbs over a law on “transparency of foreign influence”, on the occasion of the independence day of this Caucasian country.

Georgians commemorated this Sunday the 106th anniversary of the declaration of independence from the Russian Empire.

Close advertising

But this year’s celebration comes on background of tensions around the controversial law which critics consider a threat to democracy and an obstacle to Georgia’s European integration, pointing to a very similar legislation used to stifle dissenting voices in Russia.

The legislation requires media outlets, nongovernmental organizations, and other nonprofits to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad.

In her speech, openly pro-European president (and former French diplomat) Salomé Zourabichvili declared that “the destiny of our country is in our hands.”

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze responded by saying his government was protecting “Georgia’s sovereignty and independence.”

The ruling party, Georgian Dream, declares itself attached to the country’s European commitment, but its founder and “https://fr.euronews.com/my-europe/2024/05/27/l” man in the shadows ” of Georgian politics, the oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, made his personal fortune (which represents a third of the national GDP, according to the media) in Russia. The government, officially at odds with Moscow since the 2008 war, is also accused to push back certain Russian opponents who have sought refuge in Georgia since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Controversial legislation

The controversial legislation which sparked weeks of protests was passed by Parliament on May 14.

It requires media and nongovernmental organizations to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20 percent of their budget from abroad.

Protesters say the law is undemocratic and could jeopardize the country’s chances of joining the European Union.

“Georgia’s democracy is under serious attack due to the oligarchy’s grip on the state and the increased influence of Russia. The main reason these people are taking to the streets is to reclaim our country and make so that Georgia’s democratic trajectory remains intact”estimates Batu Kutelia, senior researcher in the Eurasia program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Last week, the President vetoed the bill, calling it an interview with Euronews as “sabotage of [notre] European way.

But Georgian Dream has enough of a majority in Parliament to override the veto, and is widely expected to do so.

The European Union, the structures of Council of Europe or also NATO warned Tbilisi against adopting the law and called for its repeal.

According to recent polls, more than 80% of Georgians want their country to join the European Union as soon as possible.

-

-

PREV Gaza, a people without celebration
NEXT Can we speak of a kingdom, or even a Viking empire?