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The Daily Beat: 21 May

On Tuesday evening, the Venice Commission issued an urgent opinion on the Foreign Agents Law in which it “strongly recommends” that the law “be repealed in its current form”, stating that “its fundamental flaws will involve significant negative consequences for the freedoms of association and expression, the right to privacy, the right to participate in public affairs as well as the prohibition of discrimination.”

The ruling Georgian Dream party put junior MP Salome Kurasbediani on a podium to denounce the Venice Commission’s urgent opinion at a press conference, calling the opinion “unfounded,” “false,” “manipulative,” unjustified,” and even “paradoxical.” “…There are no legal or other arguments against the Georgian law on transparency,” Kurasbediani said, claiming that the Venice Commission’s opinion was another unsuccessful attempt to prove GD wrong.

Following a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Air Force General Charles Q. Brown Jr. said at a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III that NATO is “deeply concerned” about Russia’s influence in Georgia and “watching” the current situation there, adding that NATO remains committed to Georgia’s sovereignty.

Speaking to journalists today, German Ambassador to Georgia Peter Fischer said that if the foreign agents law is adopted in its current form, Germany will not vote in favor of opening EU accession negotiations with Georgia. Ambassador Fischer noted that the European Council will decide unanimously, as it usually does in other cases, whether or not to open accession negotiations with Georgia. “All states must say yes, and I can tell you for Germany: we will not say yes if this law is passed as it stands,” the Ambassador said.

In an interview with the Voice of America-Georgian Service (VoA), Amb. Michael R. Carpenter, Special Advisor to the President and Senior Director for Europe at the US National Security Council, said that the US is deeply concerned about the passage of the Foreign Agents Law in Georgia and believes it is incompatible with the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration. With the kind permission of VoA, published the original English transcript of the interview.

The Political Council of Georgian Dream issued a statement on media reports regarding the introduction of the “Megobari Act” (Mobilizing and Enhancing Georgia’s Options for Building Accountability, Resilience and Independence Act) in the U.S. Congress, saying that there is no guarantee the bill will be passed and further noting that the U.S. is making a mistake by choosing to blackmail Georgia into “selling its sovereignty” for better relations with America, as well as putting all the responsibility for improving U.S.-Georgian relations on the U.S. side.

Representatives of the Needs Assessment Mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) are visiting Georgia. They have already held separate meetings with the opposition MPs from the political parties and groups in the Parliament – Girchi, Euro-OptimistsFor National and Democratic StateLelo-Partnership for Georgia, and Citizens. According to the Parliament’s press release, the pre-election situation in the country was the main topic of the meetings.

Transparency International – Georgia (TI-Georgia), a local watchdog, released its quarterly newsletter on political donations from January 1 to March 31, according to which donations to the ruling Georgian Dream party in the first quarter of 2024, were 20 times less than the previous quarter, amounting to GEL 447 thousand (about USD 163 thousand), but still accounting for 37% of all political donations. The watchdog notes that most prominent among the party’s donors are the shareholders of companies that receive millions in state tenders or large subsidies through various state programs.

The Tbilisi City Court fined several activists GEL 500 (approximately USD 180) in connection with protests against the Foreign Agents Law for allegedly blocking a road during protests against the law, while some other protesters were fined GEL 2200 (approximately USD 805). Fined protesters accuse the ruling Georgian Dream party of using administrative charges to suppress active citizens as the only evidence the Interior Ministry provided is the video footage showing rally participants crossing the road. A significant portion of the hearings has been postponed.


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