Transparency bill approved amid protest
Transparency bill approved amid protest

The Georgian Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, on Monday, approved the Draft Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence amid protest.

Here are the main takeaways:

People have been gathering outside the parliament building since the morning, demanding the government withdraw the legislation requiring NGOs that accept funds from abroad to fill in the annual declaration of financial income. Failure to do so will result in fines.

Poet Rati Amaglobeli, who was present at the event, stated that the ruling Georgian Dream party “is prolonging this process now, and we must stubbornly stand here to achieve the main result”.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) urged the organizers and participants of the protest rally several times “to follow the legal requests of the police and not to exceed limits defined by the law on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Later that day, 14 people were arrested for violating public order and insulting law enforcement officers. Most protesters have now left, but the organisers said they would remain outside parliament overnight.

The President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili echoed the ongoing protest saying “Georgia will not surrender to resovietisation!”

The massive peaceful demonstration of civil society in Tbilisi against the «Russian law» «spetznats» with water and gas canons ready to pass to action against civilians defending their European future. Arrests are ongoing,” the President tweeted.

Inside the Parliament, during the Committee hearing, MP and head of the opposition Citizens Party, Aleko Elisashvili, hit Georgian Dream parliamentary leader Mamuka Mdinaradze in the face who “unequivocally” explained the law from the despatch box, saying “No to Russian law. Russian laws have no place in Georgia. At the same time, no to slavery. We are committed to making independent decisions that serve the best interests of Georgia.”

During the 12-hour-long discussion, the Head of the Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee, Anri Okhanashvili ejected several opposition MPs from the Committee hearing following a heated dispute with majority members.

In a joint press point, the Georgian parliamentary opposition urged the parliamentary majority to withdraw the draft law. “We refuse to allow Georgia to fall into chaos under the Kremlin’s scenario,” they are quoted as saying.

In an earlier meeting with the U.S., EU, and UK Ambassadors, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated that the proposed law “meets every fundamental legal principle and serves the only goal of making public the annual revenues of NGOs and relevant media outlets.”