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Tuesday July 23, 2024

Georgian NGOs vow to defy ‘foreign influence’ law

By AFP
May 30, 2024
A representational image of people protesting in Georgia on May 29, 2024. — AFP
A representational image of people protesting in Georgia on May 29, 2024. — AFP

TBILISI: Around 200 Georgian NGOs on Wednesday vowed to defy a “foreign influence” law that has caused deep divisions in the Caucasus country, triggering mass protests and international condemnation.

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

The ruling Georgian Dream party pushed it through parliament in a final vote on Tuesday, overriding a veto lodged by pro-EU President Salome Zurabishvili. “By adopting this law, the authorities want to subdue Georgia´s civil sector,” the roughly 200 NGOs said in a statement.

“The Russian law will not work in our country and will remain an empty piece of paper, which nobody will obey,” it added.

Opposition parties and rights groups fear that Georgian Dream will use the measures to tighten controls over election monitors and journalists to secure another victory in a coming vote.

“We, Georgia´s civil organisations, promise to defend the elections and the votes of every single citizen,” the NGOs said. Rights groups including the Georgian branch of anti-corruption group Transparency International have told AFP the law could see their assets frozen and their work limited.