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Georgian opposition plans coalition, adopts law on “foreign agents” | News

The law requires organizations that receive more than 20 percent of funding from abroad to register as “agents of foreign influence.”

Georgia’s opposition parties have pledged to form a “pro-European” coalition as the government’s controversial “foreign influence” bill came into force.

The speaker of Georgia’s parliament approved the bill on Monday, meaning the law, which has sparked a political crisis in the South Caucasus country in recent weeks and drawn sharp criticism from its Western allies, is now in force.

Critics of the law, including President Salome Zourabichvili, say the law disrupts Georgia’s ambitions to join the European Union. They insist that the ruling Georgian Dream party seeks to bring the country closer to Russia. Massive protests called for the bill to be scrapped. The EU and the United States have also criticized the bill.

However, Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili signed the bill on Monday after Parliament voted last week to overcome the president’s veto, which was largely symbolic.


This issue is expected to continue to increase polarization in Georgia.

The same day, the AFP news agency reported that Zourabichvili had persuaded most opposition parties to sign a pro-European political charter.

Ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for October 26, the parties agreed to pursue sweeping electoral, judicial and police reforms through an interim multi-party government, if they win enough seats in Parliament to have a majority .

The plan would involve repealing the “foreign influence” law and several other pieces of legislation that the opposition says are “detrimental to Georgia’s European journey.”

Early elections would then be called next year, the groups agreed.

The legislation, which critics say resembles Russian legislation used to crush dissent, requires organizations receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as “agents of foreign influence,” and introduces fines for violations as well as onerous disclosure requirements. .

A group of Georgian NGOs said it would challenge the legislation in the Constitutional Court and is preparing an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

Hundreds of people also vowed to disobey the new law and help each other pay the fines.

Opponents of the bill have been organizing for more than a month some of the biggest protests in Georgia since independence from Moscow in 1991, at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Among the parties that signed the pledge to cooperate is the country’s main opposition force, the staunchly pro-Western United National Movement.

“Georgian voters expect the opposition to demonstrate unity as the elections approach,” one of its leaders, Tina Bokuchava, told AFP.

Russia is unpopular among many Georgians due to its support for the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, with public opinion largely favoring EU and NATO membership. Russia defeated Georgia in a five-day war in 2008.

Washington threatened to sanction Georgian officials who voted for the bill. The Georgian government accused Western countries of blackmail and said the law was necessary to prevent them from dragging Georgia into another war with Russia.

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