Massive protests prompt Georgia to repeal foreign agents law

Photo: AP (Fair Use)

On Thursday, Georgia’s ruling party announced that it would retract proposed legislation that had the potential to stifle dissent and limit media freedom, which had drawn criticism from opponents and resulted in tens of thousands of protesters swarming the capital.

Many had expressed concerns that the proposed law would introduce Russian-style repression in the country, the Associated Press reported.

The proposed legislation would have mandated that media and non-governmental organizations that receive over 20% of their funding from foreign sources register as “agents of foreign influence.”

Critics of the bill maintained that it was modeled after a comparable law in Russia that aims to silence dissent and could impede Georgia’s ambitions of becoming a member of NATO and the European Union.

Although protests opposing the bill began last week in Tbilisi, the capital, they escalated in recent days and were met with the use of tear gas and water cannons, as reported by the AP.

According to the Interior Ministry, 133 demonstrators were detained, but the Georgian police subsequently stated that all of those who faced administrative charges rather than criminal prosecution had been released, without specifying the exact number of people.

The governing party, Georgian Dream, and its associates have declared their intent to withdraw the proposed law, citing the controversy it has generated within society.