Georgian authorities used tear gas and stun grenades this Tuesday to stop a protest in the vicinity of the Parliament of Georgia in Tbilisi, according to Reuters agency. Protesters reportedly threw oil bombs and stones at the authorities, which ended up arresting several people along Rustaveli Avenue.
At the basis of the protests is the proposal for a “foreign agent” law which, according to the euronewsdictates that all Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and average who receive more than 20% of funds from other countries are registered as “agents of foreign influence” and must report income. If they fail to do so, organizations can be forced to pay large fines and their leaders can end up serving up to five years in prison.
The law is shrouded in controversy because it could constitute a “threat to democracy in Georgia”, as Harold Chambers, an expert on Georgian politics, told the euronews. And while supporters of the law argue that it promotes transparency, critics fear it will make it more difficult for Georgia to join the European Union.
This Tuesday, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Garibashvili, returned to defend the law, claiming that the proposed conditions for foreign agents are in accordance with “European and global standards”. On the other hand, the President, Salome Zourabichvili, sided with the protesters and has already announced that she will veto the law, should it reach her hands.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, also considered that the law constitutes a “very bad development” for the country and stressed that it could seriously affect the hauls with the Union.
In 2012, a similar law was passed in Russia. While the Kremlin denies that the law is a form of censorship, some argue that the legislation harms the work of journalists and human rights defenders. the band of punk pussy riothuman rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov and opponent of the regime Alexey Navalny are some examples of people included in the list of “foreign agents”, according to the DW.
Russia is seen as an enemy by many Georgians after Moscow supported separatist movements in the Ablhazia and South Obssetia regions in the 1990s.