The “Europe-Georgia Institute” issues a stern and grave condemnation of the brutal crackdown and excessive use of force against the peaceful demonstration that protested the adoption in the first reading of the Russian law on so-called “agents of foreign influence” by the Parliament of Georgia. This disgraceful act is a shameful display of authoritarianism and disregard for the fundamental rights of citizens.
It is with utmost concern that the “Europe-Georgia Institute” views the adoption of this draft law in the first reading. We view this as a disastrous development that poses an existential threat to the European aspirations of Georgia, and the existence of an independent Georgian state.
Georgia is, was, and will be a European Country. Nobody and nothing can change this – Long Live Free Georgia #NoToRussianLaw
Parliament of Georgia voted for the draft law “on transparency of foreign influence” in the first reading
Parliament voted for the draft law “on transparency of foreign influence” in the first reading. 76 deputies voted in favor of the draft law, and 13 voted against it.
Initially, the draft law was not to be discussed in March 7 plenary session, however, on the initiative of Mamuka Mdinaradze, the chairman of the “Georgian Dream” faction, it was decided to discuss and vote on it on March 7.
Discussion on the draft law took place in the background of tension and controversy as well as protests out of the Parliament building for several hours.
Before the voting, the US Embassy in Georgia stated its position once again: „Today is a dark day for Georgia’s democracy. Parliament’s advancing of these Kremlin-inspired laws is incompatible with the people of Georgia’s clear desire for European integration and its democratic development.“
After voting in favor of the draft law, The special forces started dispersing the participants of the rally in front of the Parliament. They used pepper sprays, water cannons, and tear gas multiple times. In spite of this, the participants of the demonstration continued their protest.
President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili commented on the ongoing processes. She addressed the participants of the demonstration: “I am by your side. Today you represent free Georgia. Georgia, which sees its future in Europe, will not allow anyone to take away this future. This future belongs to our next generation.” She also said that no one needed this law, it does not come from anywhere, if not at the behest of Moscow and it should be revoked.
US State Department Spokesman Ned Price also commented on the ongoing processes. According to him, the USA is „closely following developments“ and the use of tear gas and other efforts to „repress and suppress the protests in Georgia. Our message to the people of Georgia, to the government of Georgia, to peoples and governments around the world, is that the United States stands with all of those who are peacefully exercising what is their universal right to assemble, to have their voices heard, to speak freely, to hold their governments accountable” – Ned Price stated.
European External Action Service also made a statement – adoption of the draft law is “a very bad development for Georgia and its people” and “This law is incompatible with EU values and standards. It goes against Georgia’s stated objective of joining the European Union, as supported by a large majority of Georgian citizens. Its final adoption may have serious repercussions on our relations.”
The situation near the Parliament remains tense.
For information, the representatives of the “People’s Power” movement formed by the deputies who left the “Georgian Dream” and still remain in the parliamentary majority, initiated 2 draft laws on the so-called “foreign agents”, that were met with harsh criticism from the representatives of various groups of society, as well as the European Union, the USA, NATO, and UN. Despite this, the “Georgian Dream” decided to support the bills.