U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson: U.S. “Deeply Concerned” over Foreign Agents’ Law

Commenting on the ongoing protest rallies in Tbilisi against the so-called Foreign Agents’ law and on his message to Georgian people, the U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said on April 17 that the U.S. “remains deeply concerned that this draft legislation if enacted could stigmatize civil society organizations working to improve the lives of Georgian citizens and media organizations operating within Georgia to provide information to Georgian citizens.”

He added: “We think that civil society, journalism, media organizations are cornerstone to any democratic society, and we urge the Georgian government to heed warnings that this bill is not in line with European Union’s norms and values, and it would certainly negatively impact Georgia’s progress on its EU path.” He further added that the U.S. “will continue to urge and reiterate with the Georgian government” this “dire concern” with this legislation.

Patel was also asked to comment on the amendments to the tax code, which were fast-tracked through Parliament on 17 April, and which would make it easier to transfer assets from tax havens from abroad and, as a journalist noted in asking the question, would “clearly” be used to “avoid sanctions”. Patel however, declined to comment on the issue, saying he was “not familiar with this other piece of legislation” but would check it.

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