Georgia’s worries on Russian influence go beyond foreign agents law, states Salome Zourabichvili

Salome Zourabichvili
Salome Zourabichvili

The ‘Foreign agents’ law, triggering large protests in Tbilisi, isn’t a sole concern, the main issue being related to country’s ‘Russian government’, said Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili in an interview with DW, as quoted by Echo of the Caucasus on May 3.

Read also: Unidentified men attack protesters in Tbilisi during rally against ‘foreign agent bill’

“Authorities depict Georgia’s partners as revolution agents, alleging attempts to overthrow the government,” Zourabichvili said.

“They stay silent on Russia, almost treating it as a new ally. Thus, the issue isn’t just the ‘Russian’ law. It’s the ‘Russian’ government steering Georgia towards Moscow..”

The majority of Georgia’s population opposes such policies. The ruling party, Georgian Dream, has already enacted several contentious laws, including the offshore law, which ‘transforms Georgia into a haven for Russian oligarchs under sanctions,” Zourabichvili said.

“She described the situation as ‘extremely alarming’ and voiced hope that European partners would take ‘appropriate action.’

“Before we tackle the challenging road to the elections, we need their attention,” Zourabichvili said.

The “foreign agents” bill and protests in Georgia

Mass protests swept through Georgia on April 9 following the announcement by Mamuka Mdinaradze, leader of the Georgian Dream parliamentary majority, of his party’s intention to reintroduce a bill on ‘foreign agents,’ also known as the ‘Russian law.’ Security forces moved to disperse demonstrators in Tbilisi on April 16.

The Georgian legislature approved the bill in its first reading on April 17. The measure mandates the registration of non-profit entities and media receiving over 20% of their income from abroad as ‘organizations acting in the interests of a foreign state.’ The bill requires three votes for passage in the Georgian parliament to become law.”

Zourabichvili has promised to veto the document.

Read also: Georgian President urges protesters to show restraint, not storm parliament

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze stated on April 18 that the “foreign agents” bill aims to safeguard the country from “Ukrainization.” In response, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that the real threat to Georgia is Russification, not “mystical Ukrainization,” warning that using Ukraine derogatorily harms Ukrainian-Georgian relations.

On the same day, members of the European Parliament voiced concerns that the adoption of Georgia’s controversial “foreign agents” bill could jeopardize the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration efforts.

On April 25, the European Parliament passed a resolution regarding Georgia’s foreign influence transparency bill, casting doubt on the country’s EU accession talks while the law is active.

Clashes erupted between police and protesters near the Georgian parliament on April 30. President Zourabichvili urged an end to the protest dispersal in Tbilisi and held the government responsible for the unrest.

Read also: Eight people hospitalized following protests in Tbilisi

On May 1, the Interior Ministry announced that police had arrested 60 demonstrators, charging them with hooliganism and disobeying lawful police orders. Six police officers sustained injuries during the clashes.

Later that day, the Georgian parliament approved the “foreign agents” bill in its second reading.

We’re bringing the voice of Ukraine to the world. Support us with a one-time donation, or become a Patron!

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine