US Helsinki Commission: “Foreign Agent” Legislation – Self-Sabotage of Georgia’s EU Candidacy

The U.S. Helsinki Commission issued a statement on April 5 on the re-introduction of the law on “foreign agents” by the ruling Georgian Dream party. The statement calls the reintroduction of the bill “a deliberate attack on Georgia’s fragile democracy, self-sabotage of its European candidacy, and a blatant rejection of the Georgian people’s overwhelming and hard won Euro-Atlantic choice. “

The U.S. Helsinki Commission further says that “this bill is a facsimile of the Russian legislation that inspired it. It is no coincidence that its reintroduction comes amid a broader push for similar legislation in the region.” The statement reads that “it is appalling but unsurprising that the Georgian Dream would again go down this path despite Russia’s continuing occupation of 20% of the country’s territory.”

The Commission calls on the Georgian leadership “to abandon this bill and return to its previous liberal democratic trajectory and the Euro-Atlantic choice of its people.”

On April 3, the parliamentary majority leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Mamuka Mdinaradze, announced the reintroduction of the draft law on foreign agents, which was dropped last year after the massive rallies on March 7-9. According to Mdinaradze, the content of the bill remains the same, the only change is in the title: the word “agent” in it has been removed and the title has been replaced with “Organization Pursuing the Interests of a Foreign Power”. The decision has drawn sharp criticism from the civil society and opposition within the country and from Georgia’s international partners.

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