Georgia's Proposed 'Foreign Agents' Law Sparks Presidential Veto Amid Controversy

Business | April 9, 2024, Tuesday // 09:19
Bulgaria: Georgia's Proposed 'Foreign Agents' Law Sparks Presidential Veto Amid Controversy

Amidst mounting controversy, the Georgian government's push for a law on "foreign agents" has ignited fierce debate, prompting President Salome Zourabichvili to assert her authority with a promised veto. The proposed legislation, which mandates registration for media and non-governmental organizations receiving over 20% of their funding from abroad, has drawn sharp criticism for its perceived encroachment on freedom of expression and association.

According to reports from the Associated Press, the bill mirrors a previous iteration that was shelved by the ruling "Georgian Dream" party following widespread public outcry and street demonstrations. Termed the "Russian law" by opponents, the measure has raised concerns about Georgia's trajectory vis-à-vis its aspirations for European Union membership, with critics viewing it as a step away from EU values.

The revised text, while ostensibly similar to its predecessor, substitutes the contentious phrase "agents of foreign influence" with the ostensibly softer language of "protecting the interests of an external power." However, the semantic change has done little to assuage fears of government overreach and curtailment of civil liberties.

President Zourabichvili's impending veto underscores the government's internal divisions and the broader societal discord surrounding the proposed legislation. Yet, the efficacy of her action remains uncertain in light of impending constitutional changes set to alter the presidential election process.

Under the revised constitutional framework, slated to take effect following Zourabichvili's term, the next president will be elected by an electoral college comprising all deputies—a departure from the current direct popular vote system.

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Tags: Georgia, foreign agents, veto, constitutional

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