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The Daily Beat: 3 June

The infamous foreign agents’ law has been enacted as Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili signed the bill into law today, June 3. The law will be published tomorrow and in 60 days from tomorrow, the key provisions of the law will take effect.  Over 100 Georgian CSOs have vowed not to register in this “defamatory” registry.

Speaking at a press conference on June 3, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller reiterated the US readiness to impose sanctions on those individuals who undermine Georgian democracy, saying that the US will not hesitate to impose sanctions following the announced new sanctions policy towards Georgia. “We have announced a new sanctions policy, we have not yet announced individual sanctions and I will leave it at that. But we have made clear we will not hesitate to impose them,” said Spokesman Miller.

The opposition parties have signed the Georgian Charter – a roadmap initiated by President Salome Zurabishvili for resolving the political crisis and advancing EU integration. The Georgian Charter, announced by President Zurabishvili on May 26, calls on all signatory parties to fulfill its objectives during the spring session of the newly elected parliament and to schedule early elections for the fall of 2025, creating the environment for free and fair elections.

Representatives of former Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia’s “For Georgia” party supported the reforms outlined in the Charter, however, refused to sign the Charter, citing objections to the idea of a technical government and the proposed early elections in 2025. Earlier Iago Khvichia, the leader of the Girchi party, also refused to join the President’s initiative while expressing the party’s readiness to participate in the discussions.

The June 2 rally-concert, held in defiance of the law on foreign agents and the campaign of intimidation and terror against citizens, and to collect donations for those arrested and fined at these rallies over the past two months, raised GEL 348 000 (about USD 124 700) by 14:00 of June 3, according to Human Rights House Tbilisi, a local civil society organization that organized the fund-raising. The donations continue to arrive.

Ruling Georgian Dream Secretary General and Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze confirmed fears that the Foreign Agents Law will be used for shutting down civil society organizations. “If NGOs do not obey the Foreign Agents Law, fines will be imposed, then their assets will be frozen. They will not be able to function, nor will they be able to receive funds,” Kaladze told journalists, assuredly adding that no sanctions will be imposed.  

Nino Balanchivadze, a journalist of opposition-leaning Mtavari Arkhi TV was banned from entering the parliament building for 1 month for trying to obtain comments from the ruling Georgian Dream party lawmaker, Nino Tsilosani on possible US sanctions. According to Speaker Shalva Papuashvili’s order, journalists are prohibited from interviewing in the courtyard and corridors of the Parliament without the consent of the respondent.

Shalva Ramishvili, co-founder of the pro-government POSTV channel and one of Georgian Dream‘s main mouthpieces threatened the anti-foreign agents law protesters. “As you know, terror is a weapon of the weak. Liberal terror, or “Facebook shaming” and chants of “slave! slave!”of even weaker ones. This action, which is against the traditions of our nation, will get the liberal idiots nothing,” he wrote on Facebook.


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