Georgia’s Ruling Party Secures a Contentious Law on Foreign Influence

Georgia’s ruling party, Georgian Dream, recently secured a contentious law on foreign influence, sparking widespread debate and criticism from opposition parties and civil society groups.

The law, officially known as the Law on the Legal Status of Foreigners and Stateless Persons, was passed by the Georgian Parliament on July 2nd. It requires individuals and organizations receiving foreign funding to register as “foreign agents” and disclose their sources of funding. The law also prohibits such entities from engaging in political activities or influencing public opinion.

Proponents of the law argue that it is necessary to protect Georgia’s sovereignty and national security from foreign interference. They point to recent examples of foreign actors funding and supporting political campaigns and civil society organizations in Georgia as evidence of the need for such legislation.

However, critics of the law argue that it is overly vague and could be used to suppress dissent and restrict freedom of speech. They argue that the law could be used as a tool to target opposition parties, independent media outlets, and civil society organizations that are critical of the government.

Opposition parties have called the law “anti-democratic” and have vowed to challenge it in court. Civil society groups have raised concerns about the potential impact of the law on freedom of speech and the ability of civil society organizations to operate independently.

The European Union and the United States have also expressed concerns about the law, urging the Georgian government to ensure that it does not infringe on fundamental rights and freedoms.

Georgia’s ruling party has defended the law, arguing that it is in line with international standards and is necessary to protect the country’s democratic institutions. They have dismissed criticism from opposition parties and civil society groups as politically motivated.

The passage of the law on foreign influence is likely to further deepen political tensions in Georgia, which has been embroiled in a political crisis since last year’s parliamentary elections. The law is seen as a further attempt by the ruling party to consolidate its power and silence dissenting voices.

As the debate over the law continues, it is clear that Georgia’s democracy is at a crossroads. The government must balance the need to protect national security with respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. The international community will be closely watching how the law is implemented and its impact on Georgia’s democratic institutions.