The Parliament is starting consideration of foreign agents bills. The draft laws entitled – “On the transparency of foreign influence” and “On the registration of foreign agents” will be discussed today, at the joint meeting of the Foreign Relations and Defense and Security Committees of the Parliament.
The draft laws were presented by the members of the People’s Power, which is part of the majority. The initiators include Sozar Subari, Dimitri Khundadze, Mikheil Kavelashvili, Guram Macharashvili, Dachi Beraia, Viktor Japaridze, Eka Sefashvili, Davit Kacharava and Zaal Mikeladze.
Initially, the draft law “On transparency of foreign influence” was registered in the Parliament. In order to “ensure transparency”, the said draft law envisages the registration of such non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entities and media outlets, whose income (more than 20%) is received from abroad, as agents of foreign influence.
According to the draft law, everyone who is considered to be an “agent of foreign influence” must be registered in the public registry in a database with the same name. At the time of registration, it will be necessary to reflect the received income. At the same time, the organizations will have the obligation to fill in the financial declaration every year.
“To identify agents of foreign influence”, the draft empowers the Ministry of Justice to conduct research and study-monitoring of the issue at any time.
According to the same draft law, the basis for starting the monitoring will be the decision of the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice and the written statement submitted to the Ministry of Justice, which “contains an appropriate reference related to a specific agent of foreign influence”.
Avoiding registration as an agent of foreign influence or not filling out the declaration will result in the organization being fined in the amount of 25 thousand GEL. The draft also envisages the following types of fines: – 10 thousand GEL if the organization does not fill out the application form within 10 working days from the entry on the website of the Ministry of Justice; In case of non-correction of defects in the documents within the specified period – 10 thousand GEL; Committing a legal offense after one month – 20 thousand GEL.
Regarding the second bill – “On registration of foreign agents”, taking into account the said bill, any natural and legal person who receives funding from abroad will have the obligation to register as a foreign agent.
Non-fulfilment or improper fulfillment of the obligation stipulated by the Law “On registration of foreign agents” will result in criminal liability and will be punishable by a fine or imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years.
According to the document, entities that meet the criteria of being an agent of a foreign power established by the draft law are obliged to apply to the Prosecutor General and request registration as an agent of a foreign power.
The validity of the mentioned law shall not apply to diplomats, consuls and employees of the diplomatic service and consular institution. The law also does not apply to officials of a foreign country, a person who engages in charitable activities and a person “who engages in religious, educational, scientific, academic or artistic activities in good faith.”