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Thursday June 13, 2024

Georgia adopts ‘foreign influence’ law despite protests

By AFP
May 29, 2024
A protest in Georgia seen in this undated image.— AFP/file
A protest in Georgia seen in this undated image.— AFP/file 

TBILISI: Georgia´s parliament voted on Tuesday to adopt a divisive “foreign influence” law targeting NGOs and the media, overcoming a presidential veto on the bill despite Western warnings the move could jeopardise the country´s path to the European Union.

The law, which critics have compared to repressive Russian legislation used to silence dissent, forces groups receiving at least 20 percent of funding from abroad to register as “organisations pursuing the interests of a foreign power.”

The proposal has drawn fierce opposition from Western governments including the United States, which said the measure risked “stifling” freedom of expression in the Black Sea Caucasus nation.

Brussels warned the measure was “incompatible” with the ex-Soviet republic´s longstanding bid for EU membership, which is enshrined in the country´s constitution and supported -- according to opinion polls -- by more than 80 percent of the population.

Lawmakers voted 84 to 4 to pass the bill on Tuesday, after overriding pro-EU President Salome Zurabishvili´s veto.

Most opposition MPs walked out of the 150-seat chamber ahead of the vote.

The EU said that it deeply regretted the law being adopted, and foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said the bloc was “considering all options to react to these developments”.