Georgian committee approves ‘Russian Law’ in record time

Demonstrators hold a rally to protest on law on
Demonstrators hold a rally to protest on law on "foreign agents" in Tbilisi, Georgia, on May 12

The Legal Committee of the Georgian Parliament swiftly approved the "foreign agents" law in its third reading, taking just 67 seconds, reported Echo of the Caucasus on May 13.

Opposition representatives, previously barred from parliament, missed a committee meeting due to its swift proceedings.

Committee chairman Henri Okhanashvili noted that the third reading involved only editorial changes. He explained that the law passed quickly because ruling party MPs had no comments or questions.

Read also: Ukraine should take a closer look at what’s going on in Georgia — opinion

The majority party, Georgian Dream, plans to approve a "foreign agents" law on May 14.

Opponents of the controversial law gathered overnight near the parliament building, starting at 10:00 p.m. EET.

Before the legal committee's vote, special forces dispersed protesters from the area.

Echo of the Caucasus reported that police also assaulted several demonstrators. When members of Georgian Dream appeared, protesters repeatedly called them slaves.

Protesting the "Foreign Agents" bill in Georgia

Mass protests erupted across Georgia on April 9 after the ruling Georgian Dream party proposed reintroducing a controversial 'Foreign Agents' bill, dubbed the 'Russian law', which sparked widespread opposition in 2023.

On April 16, security forces dispersed demonstrators in Tbilisi.

Read also: European MPs сall for Georgia's EU сandidate suspension

The Georgian legislature passed the bill in its first reading on April 17. The legislation requires non-profit organizations and media receiving more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as ‘organizations acting in the interests of a foreign state.’

The bill must pass three votes in the Georgian parliament to become law.

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili has vowed to veto the bill.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze stated on April 18 that the bill aims to prevent "Ukrainization" of the country.

Read also: Tens of thousands march in Tbilisi against Georgia’s ‘Foreign Agents’ bill – Reuters

In response, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry countered that the real threat to Georgia is Russification, not "mystical Ukrainization," and emphasized that derogatory references to Ukraine damage Ukrainian-Georgian relations.

Members of the European Parliament expressed concerns that the bill could hinder Georgia’s aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration.

On April 25, the European Parliament adopted a resolution indicating that the 'Foreign Agents' bill could impact Georgia's EU accession discussions while the law is in effect.

Clashes broke out between police and protesters near the Georgian parliament on April 30.

President Salome Zourabichvili called for an end to the dispersal of protests in Tbilisi and blamed the government for the unrest.

The Interior Ministry reported that 60 demonstrators were arrested on May 1, facing charges of hooliganism and failing to obey police orders.

Six police officers were injured during the clashes.

Later that day, the Georgian parliament passed the "Foreign Agents" bill in its second reading.

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