Georgian Dream reintroduces draft law on Transparency of Foreign Influence
Georgian Dream reintroduces draft law on Transparency of Foreign Influence

The ruling Georgian Dream party has reintroduced well-known draft law on Transparency of Foreign Influence which was revoked after mass rallies a year ago.

The draft Law has already been tabled in the Parliament of Georgia with a single difference –  the term “agent of foreign influence” was substituted with “organization pursuing the interests of a foreign power.”

The organizations will be obliged to fill in the annual declaration of financial income. Failure to register or complete the declaration will result in a 25,000 GEL fine.

In his remark, the Chair of the parliamentary majority, Mamuka Mdnaradze said, “This year, everyone will have to enter into a substantive discussion which will show the public the scale of the lies that they have inflicted on the Georgian public.”

“Comparable laws are in force in the U.S., Israel, and Australia, and the discussion has been underway in the European Union, Great Britain, France, Canada, Slovakia, and Ukraine, which further confirms the relevance of this issue in terms of the protection of democracy and sovereignty. It is the sovereign right and responsibility of the state to ensure transparency of information concerning foreign funding to the people and their democratically mandated government,” Mdinaradze asserted. 

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze believes the new Law “will effectively indemnify donors from a number of inconveniences related to the ignition of radicalism and polarization by NGOs and relevant media outlets that are funded by them in Georgia, from encouragement of revolutionary processes, from rigging the parallel election vote count, from a war propaganda, from the dissemination of pseudo-liberal ideology, from actions directed against the national and religious identity of Georgia and from attempts to weaken the public institutions of the country at the expense of disinformation.”

“The European mindset for me is transparency and accountability towards the general public. The Government of Georgia has already introduced a European standard of transparency. Now is the time for the NGOs and their donors to get Europeanized, which will be definitely and significantly facilitated by the Law on the Transparency of Foreign Influence,” the PM stated.

As for President Salome Zourabichvili, “Georgian Dream said “no” to Europe in all directions.” The President believes “the Georgian Dream is engaged in sabotaging Georgia’s European path and the future of the country.”

“The answer to all this, this usury, rudeness, and immense insult to Georgia, which is called the Russian law and Russian path, is one and the only – it is to cast our European say at elections. We need to go to the polls. This requires the greatest mobilization. Not hopelessness, depression, pessimism, or unrest, but preparation. Preparations to participate in elections under one European flag, perhaps with multiple parties, but under one European flag. I will hold this flag to the end and will be with you to the end so that we, Europe and European Georgia, win the next elections,” the President underscored.

The opposition parties also lambasted the very move, urging citizens to take to the streets.

“It is time to turn to the streets,” the Eurooptimists Interfactional Union MP, Roman Gotsiridze, wrote on Facebook.

“Georgian Dream is a threat to Georgian democracy,” said Nika Gvaramia, a member of the New Party.

“We must fight to the end. The Georgian Dream should be changed. There is no other way out. If we want to be members of civilization, if we want freedom, if we want happiness, we must act only in this way. The goal of our party is to drive the Georgian nation forward towards the European Union. We will be able to do it. We are deeply convinced of that,” Gvaramia said during a press point.

“The newly proposed draft bill of the Georgian Dream party has nothing to do with transparency but is linked to the fears of drawing the elections closer,” said Beka Liluashvili, a member of the For Georgia party. Liluashvili further added that the initiatives on LGBT issues, amendments to the Election Code, abolishing women’s quota and other recent decisions all were related to the fears with the upcoming 2024 parliamentary elections.

A day following the submission of the draft bill, the majority and opposition MPs had a verbal disagreement during today’s parliament session.

The skirmish followed a member of the Citizens party, Aleko Elisashvili, taking the floor and criticizing the Georgian Dream (GD) party’s legislative initiative.

“Resubmission of the Russian Law insults everyone,” Elisashvili said.

Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili warned the lawmakers not to use the term “Russian Law” and removed Aleko Elisashvili from the session hall.

International partners also echoed the ruling team’s decision, saying it “raises serious concerns.”

“The European Union recalls the public pledge of the Georgian government and the ruling party from the last year to “unconditionally withdraw” such legislation. The EU regrets that it is once again being considered despite strong public and international reactions in March 2023,” said Peter Stano, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, 

The amendments will be brought to the Bureau session next Monday, after which they will be further discussed.