Georgian MPs reject ‘foreign agents’ bill

The Georgian parliament has formally rejected a draft law requiring individuals and organizations receiving foreign funding to register as “agents of foreign influence.”


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The vote on Friday came just hours after the ruling parties announced their intention to withdraw the bill that sparked protests and unrest in the country’s capital, Tbilisi, earlier this week.

The EU and NATO both condemned the proposed law. The White House argued that if the law had been passed, it would have harmed free speech and Georgia’s ties with the West.

On Tuesday, the law received its first reading in parliament. Despite the fact that it was withdrawn, the bill had to be defeated by MPs during the second reading. Out of the 112 MPs present on Friday, 35 voted against the bill, one supported it, and the rest abstained.

Protesters against the proposed law rallied outside the parliament building in the country’s capital on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some threw Molotov cocktails and set off fireworks at officers, while others used water cannons, tear gas, and flashbangs to disperse the crowd. According to the Interior Ministry, more than 130 people were detained for disorderly conduct. They were all eventually released.

Critics claimed that the bill was modeled after a similar Russian law passed in 2012. On a call with journalists on Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow “has absolutely nothing to do” with events in the neighboring state. He claimed that the US government was the “pioneer” of such legislation, referring to the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which requires individuals and organizations to register as “foreign agents.”

The speaker of Russia’s State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, claimed that the US used “soft power” to “lead people to the streets” in Tbilisi because the rejected law would have limited Washington’s influence.

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