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The Daily Beat: 28 May

On May 28, at 7 p.m., the ruling Georgian Dream party overrode the president’s veto on the foreign agents’ law with 66 votes in favor and 0 againstThe law was subsequently voted for with 84 votes in favor and 4 against, meaning that it’s only a matter of days before the widely opposed bill is signed into law. Most opposition MPs had left the Parliament building to join the protesters before the voting.

Demonstrators gathered at the central entrance of the parliament from around 11:30 a.m. as the ruling Georgian Dream party started a plenary session to override the Presidential veto on the Foreign Agents Law. A larger rally near the Parliament took place in the evening, again blocking the Rustaveli Avenue. Some protesters cried when they learned that the law was finally passed. This time, the rally ended without clashes between protesters and riot police.

Following the final adoption of the law, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze held a press conference, saying that the law will create a better basis for ensuring Georgia’s accession to the EU, further noting that the Georgian society will be “better protected from any attempt to encroach on the country’s sovereignty.”

Zviad Kharazishvili, the infamous Head of the Special Tasks Department of the Interior Ministry, a.k.a. “Khareba,” admitted to battering protesters during peaceful demonstrations against the Foreign Agents Law, saying that he had a special “list” of people to be targeted by riot police. “I don’t beat young people, I beat only scoundrels… We have a list, I’ll show it to you. Get out, don’t film me,” Kharazishvili told journalists of TV Pirveli.

Charles Michel, the President of the European Councilreacted to the override of President Salome Zurabishvili’s veto and the final adoption of the foreign agents’ law by saying that the adoption of the law represents “a step backward and takes Georgia further away from its EU path.”

HR/VP Joseph Borrell also issued an official statement, expressing the EU’s “deep regret” at the Georgian Parliament’s decision to override the presidential veto and disregard the Venice Commission’s recommendation to repeal the law. “The EU and its Member States are considering all options to react to these developments,” the statement says.

Speaking at the daily press briefing, U.S. State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller said that the U.S. condemns the decision of the Georgian Parliament to override the Presidential veto of the “anti-democratic” foreign agents law “that fails to conform the European norms.” According to Spokesman Miller, by adopting the law “the ruling Georgian Dream party moved the country further away from the European integration path and ignored the Euro-Atlantic aspirations of the Georgian people.”

Many European foreign ministers, EU officials, as well as European and US lawmakers reacted to the enactment of the highly controversial foreign agents’ law, regretting its final adoption and further noting its negative impact on Georgia’s EU integration. Here has compiled international reactions to the presidential veto override and final passage of the foreign agents’ law.

The bilateral Visa Exemption Agreement between Georgia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) took effect on May 28, enabling Georgian citizens to travel to the PRC without a visa and stay up to 30 days per visit, without exceeding 90 days within a 180-day period. The stay cannot be extended unless necessary for humanitarian purposes or force majeure.


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