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Georgia’s Foreign Agent Law Live | General prosecutor resigns

23 May 2024
A student protest against the foreign agent law on 20 May. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

International calls for sanctions on Georgian Dream’s leaders are growing over their adoption of the foreign agent law.

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23 May 2024, 19:13

We’re ending our coverage for today.

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23 May 2024, 19:13

Georgian Independence Day to be marked Moscow

According to the Georgian Community of Russia, a celebration to mark Georgia’s Independence Day on 26 May will take place in Moscow,

‘Guests of the celebration, which starts at 16:00 local time, will have the opportunity to see performances by pop artists and choreographic groups', their statement reads.

According to them, the event is being organised by the Federal Georgian national-cultural autonomy in Russia, the Foundation for the Revival and Development of Russian-Georgian Relations, and the Russian-Georgian Business Council.

23 May 2024, 17:58

March to Interior Ministry planned tomorrow 

Demonstrators against the foreign agent law will march tomorrow at 19:00 from parliament to the Interior Ministry, in solidarity with those arrested or injured by the police during the continuing protests against the law.

23 May 2024, 17:08

PM claims ‘global war party’ behind Fico assassination plot

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has claimed that countries ‘connected with the global war party’ were behind the attempted assassination of Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico, and that the EU had threatened the same for him.

In a statement published on the government’s official Facebook page, the PM claimed he was ‘threatened’ during a phone conversation with ‘one of the European Commissioners’. 

‘In a conversation with me, the European Commissioner listed a number of measures that Western politicians could take after we overcome the veto of the [foreign agent law], and while listing these measures, they mentioned — “did you see what happened to Fico, and you should be very careful” ’, the statement read.

‘According to preliminary information, traces of the special services of one of the countries that is particularly closely connected with the global war party are behind the attack on the Prime Minister [of Slovakia]’, he added.

Kobakhidze did not specify with whom he had called.

‘The parallel drawn with the attempted assassination of Robert Fico reminds us that in the Global War Party, we are dealing with an extremely dangerous force that will do anything to bring chaos to Georgia’, he stated.

23 May 2024, 16:30

Opposition member summoned to court

Natia Mezvrishvili, the deputy chair of the opposition For Georgia party, posted on X that a member of their party has been summoned to court.

For Georgia is headed by Giorgi Gakharia, a former member of the ruling Georgian Dream party and former Prime Minister.

23 May 2024, 14:00

Parliament to overrule veto on Tuesday

Sozar Subari, an MP from Georgian Dream’s parliamentary majority,  told journalists that parliament would overturn the president’s veto of the foreign agent law during a plenary session on Tuesday, 28 May.

He said the Legal Affairs Committee would first review the President’s veto on Monday.

‘The veto will be overruled and it will happen very easily and very fairly because there were no legal comments’, he said.

23 May 2024, 13:57

Russian official: Russians love Georgian cuisine, wine, and sights

The First Deputy Chair of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption, Andrei Lugovoi, has suggested Georgians will soon realise that Russia is better for them than the West.

‘The introduction of sanctions by the European Union against Georgia would be a very good step for this, because then all sensible Georgians would realise that the West is doing everything to deprive their country of political and economic sovereignty’, told Ridus that.

‘Russians love Georgian cuisine, Georgian wines, Georgian sights, and besides, we are united by a single Orthodox religion’, he said. ‘Now Georgians will have the opportunity to compare how Russia has acted in recent years and how these unfriendly countries have acted. I think now the citizens of this country will see disrespect for them and their sovereignty’.

23 May 2024, 13:47

McCain Institute, George Bush Center, and Freedom House call for sanctions

The McCain Institute, the George W Bush Presidential Center, and Freedom House have called on the US and its European allies to impose restrictions and sanctions on Georgian officials  ‘who threaten democratic development’ in Georgia, as well as their family members.

‘This law’s passage represents another significant step in the Georgian Dream attempts to undermine democracy and freedom’, they said in a joint statement.

23 May 2024, 13:44

Venice Commission member defends damning report

David Kaye, a member of the Venice Commission and professor of law at the University of California, has said their conclusion went through all the necessary processes.

He added that the first draft was sent to the Georgian government before publication, but that the ruling Georgian Dream party did not respond to the commission ‘or they told us that they had no comments’.

Kaye, who co-authored the report, told Voice of America that ‘certainly, if the authorities had specific comments that could be taken into account by the Venice Commission, we would do so. But they didn’t send any comments’.

‘Only after the government had a chance to respond and refused to do so did we publish the report’, he added.

23 May 2024, 13:39

Kobakhidze dismisses Venice Commission opinion

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze last night dismissed out of hand the conclusion of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission.

He said that speaking ‘as a lawyer’, ‘the Venice Commission has renounced all professional dignity’.

‘They have nothing to say and [the opinion is] just full of absurd notes and, among other things, lies’, he told the Public Broadcaster.

‘I will once again express the hope […] that the European Union will succeed in de-oligarchisation. The USA can also achieve de-oligarchisation and it will be possible to protect its national interests more firmly, that is, both the USA and individual countries of the European Union and the European Union as a whole’, he added

The Venice Commission issued a damning report on Georgia’s foreign agent law on Tuesday evening, slamming it as a violation of the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, privacy, and the principle of non-discrimination.

The Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe composed of experts in constitutional law.

23 May 2024, 12:20

Blinken: ‘right out of Moscow’s playbook’

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on the State Department's 2025 budget request, US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken stated they are ‘very concerned’ about the foreign agent law. 

‘I think it’s right out of Moscow’s playbook, unfortunately, and I think it clearly counters the desire of the overwhelming majority of Georgians to move toward the EU, and the EU integration’, he said.

‘We are looking very hard at what we can do in response to that, and I anticipate we will take actions. The EU is looking at the impact on the accession process for Georgia, so I would anticipate that there will be things to come because of the impact this law may have’.

23 May 2024, 11:25

General Prosecutor steps down

The General Prosecutor of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze, has resigned unexpectedly ‘due to a complicated health condition’.

His resignation comes ahead of possible sanctions on senior judicial and law enforcement officials by the US.

Shotadze was first appointed in 2015, but resigned in 2018 over his office’s alleged mishandling of the murder of schoolboy Davit Saralidze. In 2020 Shotadze was reappointed General Prosecutor by parliament.

23 May 2024, 11:19

Key events from yesterday

  • Georgian Dream has continued to criticise the Venice Commission and its damning report on the foreign agent law.
  • The Financial Times reported that EU Foreign Ministers are set to discuss ‘restrictive measures’ next week, which could include ‘revoking visa-free travel to the EU for Georgian nationals, targeted sanctions, and the freezing of EU funds’.
  • RFE/RL cited anonymous sources in Washington as saying that the US ‘has information that can destroy the reputation of representatives of the Georgian political elite’.
  • Mamuka Khazaradze, the chair of the opposition Lelo party, has ruled out the inclusion of the United National Movement in a united opposition election list for October’s elections.
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