Georgia parliament passes ‘foreign agents’ bill amid scuffles

Georgia’s parliament has passed the third and final reading of a controversial bill on “foreign agents” after weeks of protests against the measure and warnings from Brussels that its passage could harm the country’s bid to join the European Union.

There were scuffles between lawmakers in parliament on Tuesday before parliament members voted 84 to 30 to pass the bill, clearing a major hurdle on its way to becoming law. The draft now goes to President Salome Zourabichvili, who has said she will veto it, but her decision can be overridden by another vote in parliament, controlled by the governing party and its allies.

The governing party’s push for the legislation has plunged the South Caucasian country into an extended political crisis and triggered mass protests.

The bill requires media and NGOs to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad. It is seen by many as influenced by similar legislation in Russia that has been used to clamp down on the Kremlin’s political opponents.

Critics insist it poses a threat to democratic freedoms and the country’s aspirations to join the European Union.



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