Georgia’s Senate rejects “foreign agents” law after violent rallies

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Georgia’s parliament rejected the bill on “foreign agents” in the second reading.

In a dramatic turn of events, Georgian lawmakers voted to drop the controversial bill just days after its first reading in parliament. It sparked violent and large-scale protests amid concerns that legislation copying a similar law in Russia would severely curtail dissent and civil society in the Caucasian state and push it toward authoritarianism.

MPs voted against the legislation on second reading after the ruling Georgian Dream party withdrew its support for the proposed law.

Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of the Georgian capital over the legislation, and another gathering is planned for March 10, which is likely to be more celebratory than protest.

Georgia is seeking to join the European Union, but EU officials have said the law on “foreign agents” will complicate the country’s path to membership.

President Salome Zurabishvili said she would veto the law, although parliament could override her veto.

For three nights in a row, tens of thousands of Georgians took to the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, to protest the project, saying the government was trying to push the country toward increasing authoritarianism.

Police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse protesters outside the parliament in Tbilisi. Dozens of demonstrators were arrested.

The bill required any NGO with more than 20% foreign funding to register with the Ministry of Justice as a foreign agent.

Source: svobodnaevropa