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The Daily Beat: 23 April

Young people continue to gather in front of the parliament building every evening, protesting against the Foreign Agents Law. Later in the evening, marching through central streets, protestors arrived at the EU delegation office.

At the European Parliament session, MEPs discussed the unfolding situation in Georgia under the agenda item “Attempts to reintroduce a foreign agents law in Georgia and its restrictions on civil society,” with some MEPs calling for targeted sanctions against those actively involved in pushing through the law, including GD founder Bidzina Ivanishvili.

US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel reiterated the State Department’s assessment of the reintroduced Foreign Agents Bill as “deeply problematic and inconsistent with what one would think [are Georgia’s] EU aspirations.” He also supported the ongoing peaceful protests and condemned any steps that would turn the protests violent.

Speaking to journalists, Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili said, “EU funds in Georgia are not transparent.” He lamented the strong international and domestic opposition to the GD-initiated Foreign Agents Law, adding that he is “absolutely sure that EU High Representative Joseph Borell has not read the bill.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidzebelieves” that adopting the Foreign Agents Law will only advance Georgia on the EU path. “Last year, they pressured us to release Saakashvili, but we did not and obtained the EU candidate status. We will adopt this law and advance further; the EU will open accession talks with Georgia,” PM Kobakhidze told reporters.

Vasily Piskaryov, Chair of the Security and Anti-Corruption Committee of Russia’s State Duma, urged Russian citizens residing in Georgia to refrain from participating in Tbilisi protests against the Foreign Agents Law. “Relocants from Russia these days are flaunting their massive participation in street protests against the Foreign Agents Law. And this is not surprising. To create a mass presence on the streets of Tbilisi, Western specialists in “color” revolutions are attracting a proven asset of defectors from Russia,” wrote Piskaryov on his Telegram channel.

MP Beka Odisharia from the ruling Georgian Dream party was reportedly removed from Latvia’s Honorary Consuls list. Several weeks ago, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Latvia’s Saeimas, Rihards Kols, called on Latvia’s foreign ministry to revoke the status of Honorary Consul from Georgian Dream MP Beka Odisharia following his incredibly insulting remarks towards female MPs in the Georgian Parliament.

The U.S. Department of State released its yearly Human Rights Report on Georgia, highlighting “significant” human rights issues in the country, including “torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary, along with investigations and prosecutions widely considered to be politically motivated.” Notably, the 2023 Human Rights Report identifies “serious government corruption” as one of the “significant human rights issues” not included in the previous report.

A local watchdog, the Social Justice Center, addressed the imprisonment of a peaceful participant in the rally against Russian Law on the night of April 17-18, noting that the Tbilisi City Court’s decision was unjustified and aimed at intimidating the protesters and coercively repressing the protest. “The Social Justice Center considers the malicious practice of arresting activists without cause and imposing harsh administrative penalties on them unjustified,” the statement says.

On April 22, Georgian Court Watch reported that on April 17, the High Council of Justice made a decision that all judges of first and second-instance courts would receive 100% of their official salaries as a supplement along with their current monthly supplement.  In total, over GEL 1.3 million (approximately USD 487,000) will be spent on all additional supplements for judges, raising concerns over the lack of transparency in the judiciary and indicating a high risk of influence peddling.


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