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The Daily Beat: 30 May

Speaking to the media at the opening of a new bridge in Tbilisi, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze slammed German Ambassador Peter Fischer for saying that the EU will not open accession talks with Georgia as long as the Foreign Agents law is in effect, further accusing the Ambassador of making anti-Georgian comments. “Germany, which has traditionally distinguished itself as a state full of responsibility, should not send such ambassadors to a country like Georgia,” said the Prime Minister.

During the bridge opening event, PM Kobakhidze also claimed that following the “Maidan” events in Ukraine, two consecutive governments were appointed from “the outside,” and “those who appointed these governments” shrugged off responsibility for the tragic developments in the country. He reiterated that the ruling party would not allow the “Maidan” to happen in Georgia, adding that before 2013, Ukraine was an integral state with a 200-billion-dollar economy, and now the country has “totally collapsed.”

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the “unfriendly statements” of Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze and his “distorted assessments” of events in Ukraine. “It is regrettable to observe the consistent and permanent degradation of political statements of the Prime Minister of Georgia, which have recently become difficult to distinguish from the statements of the Russian leadership…” – reads the Ukrainian MFA statement.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published its urgent legal analysis on the recently adopted Foreign Agents’ Law, saying that the law “contains serious deficiencies that make it incompatible with international human rights standards and the country’s commitments as an OSCE state, and it should be rescinded.” In response, the government mouthpiece, Imedi TV claimed that ex-President Saakashvili’s lawyer Jeremy McBride is listed among co-authors of the OSCE/ODIHR’s legal assessment.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania summoned Georgian Ambassador Salome Shapakidze after the Georgian Dream overrode the presidential veto, and finally adopted the Foreign Agents Law, the Lithuanian MFA said in its statement. The Foreign Ministry noted that Lithuania and its partners “are discussing possible countermeasures” in reaction to the recent developments in Georgia. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its deep regret at the step taken by Georgia’s ruling party and other actions aimed at intimidating and restricting civil society activities in the country,” – reads the statement of Lithuanian MFA.

Parliament adopted amendments to the Election code with 80 votes in favor, which among other issues, changed the Central Election Commission‘s rules of operation and abolished the CEC advisory group. The amendments also provide that if a decision of the CEC requiring the approval of at least two-thirds of its full membership cannot be passed during a CEC meeting, it will be subject to a revote at the same meeting and will be considered passed if it receives a majority.

Civil society organizations announced that they are preparing to appeal to the Constitutional Court of Georgia in the near future, demanding the repeal of the Foreign Agents Law. The CSOs say that “if the Constitutional Court does not act promptly and within the Constitutional framework,” they will use alternative legal means. In this context, the CSOs stated that they were simultaneously preparing to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) “at the due time.”

Fair Trees Fund announced that it was withdrawing a project aimed at establishing a free dental clinic for children in the western Georgian town of Oni, citing the Foreign Agents Law. The news was met with public outcry and as an ominous sign of the Foreign Agents Law’s harmful impact on foreign aid and a multitude of projects funded by Georgia’s international partners.

On May 28, following the final adoption of the foreign agents’ law, President Salome Zurabishvili addressed the protesters gathered in front of the parliament via video link with a proposal to hold a referendum on the country’s European future.  “First of all, let’s get prepared for a real referendum, this energy that you have must be used to collect signatures and bring them to me, and I will sign the referendum. Do we want a European future or do we want Russian slavery?” – said the President.


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