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'Foreign Agents' Law Pushes Georgia Away From EU, Closer To Russia


The adoption by the Georgian parliament of a 'foreign agent law' in its first reading has sparked mass protests in the capital Tbilisi, and if implemented fully would see the country - since the Rose Revolution in 2003 one of the former Soviet republics most likely to join NATO - shift firmly away from Western integration and towards Russia's sphere of influence.

  • A statement from EU High Rep for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell stated that "[...] This is a very bad development for Georgia and its people. The law in its current form risks having a chilling effect on civil society and media organisations [...]. 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 law would see NGOs and media outlets receiving more than 20% of their revenue from abroad to register as 'foreign agents', which would see them placed under a greater level of gov't scrutiny and vulnerable to punitive financial penalties for transgressions.
  • Opponents have drawn parallels between this law and one passed by the Russian parliament in 2012 that has been used over the past decade to crack down on dissent and criticism.
  • Georgia's shift away from its EU/NATO policy anchor has been slow but steady in recent years, and given the presence of two Russian-recognised breakaway republics (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) there will be concerns in Brussels and Washington, D.C., that the country could fall into Russia's sphere of influence despite much of the population holding strong anti-Moscow sentiments.

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