May 30, 2024

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“Putin's law” is worse in Georgia and even less so in Europe – liberation

“Putin's law” is worse in Georgia and even less so in Europe – liberation

As Georgian streets belch, Western presidents are “deeply concerned” by the progress of a bill on “foreign influence” that has unfortunately served to paralyze civil society in Russia.

Georgia is taking another step towards Russia, with its repressive laws and its muscular methods. On Wednesday, parliament adopted in second reading a highly controversial law on “transparency of foreign influence” backed by the ruling Georgian Dream Party and its satellite People's Power. Its first reading is on April 17. On Tuesday, police used batons, tear gas, water cannon and dozens of arrests to disperse thousands of demonstrators who had gathered in front of parliament.

“Not in line with EU values”

The EU's diplomatic chief, Joseph Borrell, condemned it.Strongly condemns violence against peaceful protestors in Georgia. […] As Georgia is a member of the European Union, I urge its authorities to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly. He wrote in X. On Wednesday evening, Georgia's president, Salome Zourabichvili, backed demonstrators in a standoff with the ruling party, though urged not to provoke clashes with police. As it is in the pipeline, Washington has called on Tbilisi not to adopt a law “Inspired by the Kremlin” WHO “against the will of the majority of Georgian citizens”, And according to Brussels, “Negative impact on Georgia's progress on the road to the EU [n’étant] Not in line with EU standards and core values.

In December, the European Union granted Georgia official candidate status, but Tbilisi said it needed to reform its judicial and electoral systems, increase press freedom and rein in the power of oligarchs. “EU accession negotiations should not be opened until this law is part of Georgia's legal order” Recommends the European Parliament.

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The new law requires any NGO or media that receives more than 20% of its funding from abroad to register.“An organization promoting the interests of a foreign power” and file a public annual financial return or face a heavy penalty. Since its first version, a year ago, the opposition has nicknamed it “Putin's Law” because it was modeled after the “foreign agents” law used by the Kremlin to purge civil society and suppress independent media and any criticism. of the regime. The Georgian version, withdrawn last year after a first reading and two days of violent demonstrations, risks the same consequences for the small Caucasian country, warns its opponents, where many independent organizations and media survive on foreign subsidies, in a difficult economic environment , but will deny self-stigma.

More than 200 companies have already announced that they do not want to register “In a libel register”, Never and in any form, and “Suspend cooperation with the government until the latter drops the bill.” As with Russia, most of the targeted companies and media outlets should cease their operations and, eventually, the risk will disappear. “The biggest problem with this law is that it is unnecessary. It is only being passed to suppress NGOs and independent media and eliminate non-governmental organizations that monitor elections because we have elections. [parlementaires] In October 2024”, Bhaiya Pataraiah, director of the NGO Safari and a women's rights defender, explains to the BBC. Fall legislative elections are indeed seen as a critical test of democracy in this former Soviet republic, often rocked by political crises.

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“Prevent outside interference”

Moscow, unsurprisingly, is happy. On April 18, Russian Duma Speaker and Security Council member Vyacheslav Volodin congratulated the Georgian Dream for moving in the right direction. “Any country, if it wants to become a sovereign country, whose people have the right to determine their own future, must adopt a law against foreign agents, the essence of which is to prohibit external interference in internal affairs”. And accusing Washington and Brussels of wanting to overthrow the Georgian government. Pro-Russian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, head of Georgian Dream, who talks about Western funding and presence of agents of influence in Georgia, seems to be afraid. “War Party” Who dreams to open in the West “Second front”.

“We are on the brink of a serious civil conflict, Political scientist Zia Kukashvili explains as quoted by the BBC. We are at a crossroads: do we go towards Europe or back to the Russian Empire, to the Soviet Union? The authorities clearly show that we are returning to the Soviet Union. According to this former adviser to Ivanishvili, the law is part of a series of efforts to create comfortable conditions in Georgia for Russian capital, while the brutal treatment of demonstrators is to demonstrate that the authorities are in control of the situation.