What is the newly passed ‘Russia law’ that has divided people in Georgia for months?

May15,2024



The Parliament of Georgia has passed a law that critics see as a threat to media freedom and the country's aspirations to include European Union, Lawmakers rejected weeks of mass demonstrations in the capital, including anger at neighboring Russia.
Here's a look at the law and the protests against it:
What does the law do?
The law requires media, NGOs and other non-profits to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign countries.
The law is almost identical to one that the ruling Georgian Dream party was pressured to withdraw after similar protests last year. This version passed its third and final reading in Parliament on Tuesday.
The ruling party says the law is necessary to stop what it considers harmful foreign influence on Georgia's political scene and prevent unknown foreign actors from trying to destabilize it.
The opposition condemns it as “Russian law”“Because Moscow uses similar laws to tarnish independent news media and organizations critical of the Kremlin. Opposition lawmakers have accused the ruling party of trying to draw Georgia into Russia's sphere of influence.
The law will be sent to the President before coming into force. President Salome Zourabichviliwho is at growing odds with the ruling party, has vowed to veto the legislation, but Georgian Dream has enough of a majority to override the veto.
How are Russia-Georgia relations?
Russia–Georgia relations have been tense and turbulent since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Georgia's withdrawal from its role as a Soviet republic.
In 2008, Russia fought a brief war with Georgia in an unsuccessful attempt to gain control over the breakaway province of South Ossetia. Moscow then recognized South Ossetia and another separatist province, Abkhazia, as independent states and strengthened its military presence there. Most of the world considers both regions to be part of Georgia.
Tbilisi cut diplomatic ties with Moscow, and despite improvements in Russia-Georgia relations in recent years, the situation in the regions remains a major sticking point.
The opposition United National Movement has accused Georgian Dream, which was founded by former prime minister and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made his fortune in Russia, of serving Moscow's interests – a charge the ruling party denies.
What is the position of the EU?
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell described Parliament's decision as “a very worrying development” and warned that “the final adoption of this legislation will have a negative impact on Georgia's progress on the EU path.” Borrell previously said the law was “not in line with the EU's core norms and values” and would limit the ability of the media and civil society to work freely.
European Council President Charles Michel said after the law was passed that “If they want to join the EU, they have to respect the basic principles of the rule of law and democratic principles.”



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