The Georgian president vetoes the draft law on “foreign agents” after widespread opposition

Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili delivers a speech at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, on May 31, 2023.



CNN

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili vetoed the resolution The controversial “foreign agents” bill That sparked weeks of Widespread protests Across the country.

Zurabishvili had previously vowed to torpedo the bill, but her veto could still be overridden by a simple majority in parliament, which could exacerbate the problem. The bill was approved Tuesday 84 deputies voted in favor of it, compared to 30 against it.

The contentious legislation requires organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as “agents of foreign influence” or face a fine. Opponents say the bill is modeled on similar laws in Russia that the Kremlin has used to suppress dissent and civil society.

“This law, in its essence and spirit, is fundamentally Russian, and contradicts our constitution and all European standards,” President Zurabishvili said after he vetoed the bill on Saturday.

She said that the draft law should be cancelled, noting that it could prevent the country from joining the European Union. The European Union had issued similar warnings.

Zurab Tsertsvadze/AFP

Demonstrators protest against the draft foreign agents law in Tbilisi, Georgia on May 13, 2024.

Georgia applied for EU membership in 2022 and received candidate status in December, a move seen as an attempt to halt the former Soviet republic’s drift toward Russia.

Georgia has long been stuck in between Russia and the West. Although it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and despite polls showing that an estimated 80% of Georgians want to join the European Union, its history with Moscow hampers its relationship with Europe.

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Georgia’s attitude towards Russia is certainly mixed. The two countries have not had formal diplomatic relations since Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 – but Russians who live and work there enjoy lenient visa requirements, making it an easy option for those who want to travel to Georgia. He escaped conscription in Russia In the war in Ukraine.

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