Start to Dangerous Regression of Liberty in Georgia

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 10 Jun 2024

René Wadlow – TRANSCEND Media Service

NGOs Under Government Pressure

7 Jun 2024 – Despite strong protests from Georgian Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and street protests for three weeks in the capital Tbilisi, the Georgian Parliament adopted on 3 June 2024 the controversial law on “foreign influence.” The law had first been past by the Parliament and then vetoed by the Georgian President, Salomé Zourabichvili, a former French diplomat who had returned to the country of her parents.  The Parliament has the authority to over-ride a veto which the Parliament did in this case.

The law is very close to a similar law of 2012 in the Russian Federation which has been used first to hinder NGOs and then individuals voicing opposition to the war in Ukraine.  The law obliges NGOs and media to publish all financing from foreign governments, foundations and individuals if it amounts to 20 or more percent of the funds of the organization.

The former Prime Minister and leader of the Georgian Dream Party in power for the last 12 years, Bidzina Ivanichvili, has attacked those opposed to the law as “people without a country” – a term used in the Soviet Union in the 1930s.  He has been playing on a fear among some in power in Georgia that NGOs with foreign funding could create a “color revolution” to overthrow the government.

In the days prior to the vote, there was strong government pressure against NGO representatives and journalists, some being beaten and many threatened by telephone calls.  There is also widespread fear among Russian exile in Georgia some of whom have created NGOs such as the Free Russia Foundation in Tbilisi and who had taken part in the street protests.  A situation to watch closely.

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René Wadlow is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. He is President of the Association of World Citizens, an international peace organization with consultative status with ECOSOC, the United Nations organ facilitating international cooperation and problem-solving in economic and social issues, and editor of Transnational Perspectives.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 10 Jun 2024.

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