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UPDATE: Majority Pledges to Withdraw the “Foreign Agent” Bill, But Questions Loom

A statement issued by the ruling majority on the morning of March 9 says “as a result of the internal consultations,” a decision has been taken to withdraw the draft foreign agents’ law from the Parliament.

“We can see that the adopted bill has caused differences of opinion in society. The machine of lies managed to present the bill in a negative light and mislead a certain part of the public. The false label of “Russian law” was attached to the bill, and its adoption in the first reading was presented in the eyes of a part of the public as a departure from the European course.”- reads the statement.

The statement reads that “the radical forces were able to involve some of the youth in illegal activities.” It thanks “the heroic law enforcement officers who responded to the violence with patience and the highest standards.”

The joint statement reads: “We should be most concerned about peace, tranquillity, and economic development in our country, as well as Georgia’s progress on the path of European integration. Therefore, it is necessary to spend the energy of each of our fellow citizens not on confrontation but on the development of the country in the right direction.”

At the end of the statement, there is a pledge by the authors: “we will better explain to the public what the bill was for and why it was important to ensure transparency of foreign influence in our country” as soon as “the emotions subside.” The majority pledged to start meeting the people to explain “the truth about every single detail of the matter.”

Questions Loom

The legal experts point out that since the law “On Transparency of Foreign Funding” has been adopted by the Parliament in the first reading, it can no longer be withdrawn by the MPs that formally initiated it (Parliament Rules of Procedure, Article 101.3). To remove the law from the legislative pipeline, the Parliament would have to vote it down in the second reading (Parliament Rules of Procedure, Article 112, points 16 and 17).

During the briefing today, majority faction leader Mamuka Mdinaradze said this interpretation was correct but purely ‘technical’ and said the majority commits to failing the bill in the second reading as soon as it can be put on the agenda of the plenary.

The Parliament’s plenary session, scheduled for today, will no longer be held, citing the need to assess the damage to the building following yesterday’s protests.

Many of the civic activists expressed readiness to hold the protest rally today as scheduled and to demand the majority to vote down the proposal formally.

[UPDATE: The previous version of this article said that MP Khatuna Samnidze stated protests should now stop; this was based on a misinterpretation by the newswire. MP Samnidze has clarified her position since, saying that she does not consider it correct to pose new demands but that the protests should continue.]

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)

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