The draft law on agents of foreign influence is Russia law, US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan told reporters.
“Obviously there’s a great deal of concern about the law. Let’s be very clear about what this law is not about. It is not about transparency. There is already ample reporting on what USAID donors that have long supported Georgia do. Every three months we provide detailed reports, stacks of paper, to Parliament every three months detailing how our assistance is distributed here in Georgia. All our Georgian partners have to provide similarly detailed reports to Georgia’s Revenue Service. There is plenty of transparency on how assistance is being used here in Georgia. If anybody cares to actually look, this is all up on multiple websites.
“This law is also not about the United States law. The United States law is targeted at lobbyists and law firms that are hired by foreign governments to represent the political interests of those foreign governments. That’s not what this draft law is about.
“This draft law is Russian law. This is the law that is meant to stigmatize civil society. It’s meant to silence dissenting voices, different views.
“This law will stop Georgians who are helping Georgians improve their communities, their society. This law will stop, for instance, legal assistance to Georgians in need. This law will stop independent living centers that are working with local governments to provide services to families with people with disabilities who need support that the government is not able to provide right now. This law would prevent medical research that is being co-funded by donors and Georgian universities. This law would stop tourism agencies, farmers associations; it would stop NGOs that are trying to work on climate change and the environment. The list of those who would be impacted by this law is long.
“The real question here is: does Georgia even need this law when there’s already sufficient transparency and already deep cooperation and communication and trust between donors and those working to improve Georgia’s communities and society?” said the Ambassador.
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