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Georgia's Ruling Party To Re-Submit 'Controversial' Draft Law On 'Foreign Agents'

03.04.2024 22:27

Draft law will be reviewed with same text, using term 'organization pursuing interests of a foreign power' rather than 'foreign agent,' says parliamentary majority leader.

Georgia's ruling Georgian Dream party will resubmit a draft law on "foreign agents" to the country's parliament, which was rejected by the opposition in March last year after being "controversial" and sparking mass protests in the capital Tbilisi.

"After consulting the party's Political Council, the parliamentary majority has decided to resubmit the draft law 'On the Transparency of Foreign Influence' to the Parliament," Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of Georgia's parliamentary majority, said during a press briefing in Tbilisi on Wednesday.

Mdinaradze said the draft law will be reviewed using the same text as the previous bill submitted to parliament, but the current draft differs in that it uses the term "organization pursuing the interests of a foreign power" rather than "agent of foreign influence."

He said the draft law includes only one requirement: the publication of annual financial reports by organizations in the country that receive foreign funding.

He explained that comparable laws are currently in force in the US, Israel and Australia, while such discussions have also begun and are underway since last year in the EU, the UK, Canada and Ukraine, confirming the relevance of this issue.

"It is the sovereign right and responsibility of the state to ensure transparency of information concerning foreign funding to the people and their democratically mandated government," he added.

He claimed that Georgian opposition and non-governmental organizations "deliberately disrupted the substantive discussion of the law because they knew best that they had nothing to say and that all of their so-called arguments were empty lies."

"This year, everyone will have to enter into a substantive discussion, which will show the public the scale of the lies that they have inflicted on the Georgian public," he added.

On March 10 last year, Georgian lawmakers voted down the draft law on "foreign agents" in a second reading after the proposed legislation triggered mass protests in Tbilisi, resulting in the arrest of 66 people and injuring more than 50 law enforcement officers.​​​​​​​

In a joint statement, Georgian Dream, People's Power, and members of the parliamentary majority stated that the retracted law "caused differences of opinion in society" and that the "machine of lies" was able to present the bill in a negative light and misled a portion of the public. -

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