top of page

Georgia’s parliament speaker signs controversial ‘foreign agents’ bill

By VOA News

June 6, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili signed on Monday a contentious law that critics say curbs media freedom and will threaten Georgia’s chances of joining the European Union.

Papuashvili signed the bill into law after the Georgian Dream party-controlled legislature overrode President Salome Zourabichvili’s veto of the bill.

Zourabichvili opposed the bill. She said the Georgian Dream party is jeopardizing Georgia's future and "hindering [the country’s] path toward becoming a full member of the free and democratic world."

The measure forces the media, nonprofit groups and nongovernmental organizations to register as foreign agents if they receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad.

The law has sparked weeks of protests. Opponents of the law say it is Russian-inspired and authoritarian, dubbing the measure "the Russian law" because it is similar to bills pushed through by the Kremlin to weaken independent news media, activists and nonprofit organizations.

Some journalists argue the law’s goal is to discredit them and restrict speech ahead of the country's parliamentary elections in October.

But the government says the law is necessary to prevent foreign actors from attempting to destabilize Georgia. Papuashvili says the law’s main purpose is to "increase the resistance of the political, economic and social systems of Georgia to external interference."

The EU said the proposed bill would weaken Tbilisi's two-year bid for EU membership, which is supported by 80% of the population, according to opinion polls.

European Council chief Charles Michel said last month the foreign agents bill "will bring Georgia further away from the EU and not closer."

The Dream party dropped a similar bill last year after a wave of anti-government demonstrations, during which police used tear gas and water cannons against protesters.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.



bottom of page