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Were you surprised by the protests… Georgia ruling party withdraws push for ‘press and NGO control law’

delivery time2023-03-09 17:41

A series of large-scale protests against the mandatory registration of ‘agents of foreign powers’

Georgian citizens protest against ‘press and NGO control bill’

(Tbilisi[조지아] AFP = Yonhap News) Demonstrations are taking place in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi on the 7th (local time) against a bill to control foreign-backed media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the country. Protesters are calling for the withdrawal of the government-sponsored bill, claiming that it infringes on freedom of expression. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse thousands of protesters. 2023.03.08 [email protected]

(Seoul = Yonhap News) Correspondent Lim Hwa-seop = Georgia’s ruling party pushed for legislation to regulate media outlets and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that receive foreign subsidies, but withdrew on the 9th (local time) after facing strong headwinds at home and abroad. .

The Associated Press, AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg, and dpa news outlets reported that the ruling party’Georgia’s Dream’ and members of the pro-ruling party, who proposed the’Act on Transparency of Foreign Forces Influence’, withdrew the bill that day.

Georgia’s dream is a political party and political coalition founded in 2012 by former Prime Minister Vidzina Ivanishvili, a pro-Russian entrepreneur and pro-Russian.

The withdrawn bill put forward ‘enhancement of transparency in the case of receiving financial support from foreign powers’ as the justification.

It contained information such as requiring media companies and NGOs to register as ‘agents of foreign powers’ if they receive 20% of their annual income from foreign sources, and to report the details of the funds to the authorities. The Georgia legislature passed the bill in its first round of deliberation on the 7th.

Legislators who initiated the bill, belonging to Georgia’s Dream and People’s Power, issued a statement that day and explained that they had decided to withdraw the bill without any reservations, saying, “(This bill) has caused social controversy.”

However, they argued that there was a misunderstanding, saying that “the bill was falsely described as ‘Russian law'”.

The bill, which was modeled after the “Foreign Agency Act” enacted by Russia in 2012, was criticized as an attempt to curb government critics inside and outside Georgia.

In Tbilisi, the capital, large-scale protests with thousands to tens of thousands of people were held every day, and on the night of the 8th, the day before the bill was withdrawn, the police launched a hard-line suppression, including shooting water cannons and tear gas, and arrested 133 protesters.

Members of the European Parliament (EP) criticized the bill and warned that the bill would hinder Georgia’s efforts to join the EU. Independent President Salome Zurabishvili, who was directly elected by the people, also pledged to veto the bill if Congress passed it.

Since the enactment of the “Foreign Agencies Act,” Russia has been criticized for suppressing public opinion criticizing the government, such as closing organizations that oppose the government. Last year, the law was also amended to further strengthen regulations.

On the 9th, when the withdrawal of the bill was announced, the EU mission to Georgia issued a welcome statement and said, “We urge all political leaders in Georgia to resume pro-European reforms.” did.

Georgia has been pushing for EU accession for the past 10 years and officially submitted an application for EU accession in March last year. However, it has not yet been granted candidate state status.

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