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The Daily Beat: 18 April

MP Aleko Elisashvili from the Citizens Party, who was detained by the police during the protest rally near the government building on the night of April 17, claims that several police officers physically assaulted him before taking him to the police station. Elisashvili’s face was covered in bruises as he commented on the details of his detention after the release. Secretary General of the Lelo party, Irakli Kupradze, also accused riot police of politically motivated revenge and brutality, saying that he was severely beaten during and after the detention on the night of April 16.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller made a statement on the “Transparency of Foreign Influence” draft bill, expressing grave disappointment over the parliament’s decision to advance “Kremlin-inspired” legislation, saying that the passage of this law could compromise Georgia’s progress on its EU path. The statement says the U.S. joins its European allies in urging Georgia not to enact legislation “that goes against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Georgian citizens — the desire to integrate fully into the EU.”

Eighteen leading MEPs issued a statement saying that the draft law on “Transparency of Foreign Influence” re-tabled by the GD “runs against Georgia’s ambitions for EU membership and jeopardizes the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration.” The statement further says that the law, which passed its first reading on April 17, “is an attack on independent media and civil society organizations” and is incompatible with EU values and democratic principles.”

Chairman of Russia’s State Duma and member of the Security Council Vyacheslav Volodin praised Georgian Dream for reintroducing the Foreign Agents bill, saying, “Any country, if it wants to become a sovereign state where the people have the right to determine their own future, must adopt a law on foreign agents, the essence of which is the prohibition of outside interference in internal affairs.” He also accused Washington and Brussels of planning to topple the Georgian government.

Six opposition parties – Ahali, Girchi-More Freedom, Droa, United National Movement, Lelo for Georgia, and Strategy Aghmashenebeli– issued a joint statement announcing “full mobilization and coordination for the second hearing date of the law, to do everything possible, together with our people, to ensure that the Russian law fails.”

Transparency International issuedstatement on the “Foreign Agents Law,” expressing “deep concern” over its reintroduction. The statement highlights that it mirrors similar legislation that has been in place in Russia since 2012 and calls on authorities to withdraw it. The statement notes that the bill’s passage in the first reading came “in the wake of a brutal crackdown on protesters in the streets of Tbilisi the night before.”

President Salome Zurabishvili vetoed amendments to Georgia’s Electoral Code that abolish gender quotas for female MPs, the President’s Administration reported. “As the Georgian President has said many times, she will veto all laws that contradict Georgia’s European path,” the official press release said. Despite the President’s veto, the parliamentary majority is expected to override it, as it has done in many other cases.


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