Helsinki Commission on Monday said, “the proposed foreign agent law in Georgia is an assault on the country’s weakening democracy, a deliberate gift to Russia, and a direct challenge to the Georgian people’s consistent Euro-Atlantic choice.”
It added that the draft bill “does not resemble FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) in any way.”
The proposed foreign agent law in #Georgia is an assault on the country's weakening democracy, a deliberate gift to #Russia, and a direct challenge to the Georgian people's consistent Euro-Atlantic choice. It does not resemble #FARA in any way. pic.twitter.com/6NUPBdDiZg
— Helsinki Commission (@HelsinkiComm) March 6, 2023
In response to news that the Georgian parliament is considering Russian-style foreign agent legislation, which would have a chilling effect on Georgia’s vibrant civil society, Helsinki Commission Chairman Representative Joe Wilson (SC-2), Co-Chairman Senator Ben Cardin (MD), Ranking Member Representative Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (MS) issued the following joint statement:
“Since regaining independence, the Georgian people have clearly and consistently chosen to be part of the democratic, Euro-Atlantic community. However, the antidemocratic, Russian-style foreign agent law would be, if enacted, a rebuke to the Georgian people’s EU and NATO aspirations and underscore the rapid decline of Georgian democracy. It would also demonstrate the present government’s increasing embrace of Russia—the same country that occupies 20 percent of Georgian territory, kidnaps its citizens, disregards its sovereignty, and wages a genocidal war against Ukraine.
“This bill as well as the ongoing democratic decline, including the jailing of political opponents, is an attack on our strategic partnership and the Georgian people’s Western choice. Since 1991, the United States has been a firm and untiring friend to the Georgian people. This will not change, regardless of the government’s position. In the spirit of that friendship, we call on the Georgian government to reject the proposed legislation and renew its commitment to democracy.”
Georgian Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee backed the People’s Power-tabled draft bills on Transparency of Foreign Influence and Registration of Foreign Agents in the first reading.
For the record, after receiving more than 20% of a certain revenue from abroad, the proposed law on Transparency of Foreign Influence deems media outlets and non-commercial, non-entrepreneurial legal organizations to be agents of foreign influence.
Any natural or legal person that gets funds from abroad would be required to register as a foreign agent, according to the draft bill on the Registration of Foreign Agents. Failing to do so will result in five years of imprisonment.