Thousands Protest Proposed "Foreign Agents" Law in Tbilisi, Georgia

Thousands protest in Georgia against proposed law seen as aligning the country with Russia, threatening its EU and NATO aspirations.

Safak Costu
Updated On
New Update
Thousands Protest Proposed "Foreign Agents" Law in Tbilisi, Georgia

Thousands Protest Proposed "Foreign Agents" Law in Tbilisi, Georgia

Thousands of protesters gathered at the First Republic Square in Tbilisi, Georgia on Friday to demonstrate against the Draft Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence proposed by the ruling Georgian Dream party. The protesters argue that the law would isolate Georgia from Europe and align the country more closely with Russia, blocking its access to NATO and the European Union.

The proposed legislation would require media and non-commercial organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as being under foreign influence. Critics say the law is similar to legislation used by the Kremlin in Russia to crack down on independent voices and restrict media freedom and civil society.

The demonstration was organized by NGOs, with politicians also in attendance. It began with the playing of the Georgian and European Union anthems. Eka Gigauri, the head of Transparency International – Georgia, stated, "There are no more doubts about the government's intention to move the country towards Russia and away from Western institutions."

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has said she will veto the bill if it is approved by parliament. However, the ruling Georgian Dream party has enough votes to override her veto. The U.S. Senate has warned that the law could lead to a change in U.S. policy toward Georgia, and EU officials have said it would disrupt Georgia's EU membership hopes.

Why this matters: The protests in Tbilisi highlight the ongoing tensions and debates in Georgia surrounding the role of foreign influence and the balance between national interests and democratic principles. The outcome of this controversy could have significant implications for Georgia's future alignment and relationships with Russia, the EU, and the West.

Georgia's bid for EU and NATO membership is enshrined in its constitution and supported by over 80% of the population. The EU has granted Georgia candidate status but said it must reform its judicial and electoral systems, reduce political polarization, and improve press freedom before membership talks can begin. The demonstrators plan to march to the Georgian parliament to voice their opposition to the proposed "foreign agents" law.

Key Takeaways

  • Thousands protest in Tbilisi against proposed "foreign agents" law in Georgia.
  • Law would require media, NGOs with >20% foreign funding to register as foreign-influenced.
  • Protesters fear law aligns Georgia with Russia, blocks EU and NATO integration.
  • Georgian president vows to veto law, but ruling party can override veto.
  • Outcome could impact Georgia's future alignment with Russia, EU, and West.