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Georgia’s Foreign Agent Law Live | Parliament overturns offshore law veto

29 May 2024
Protesters outside Parliament on Tuesday. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media

The parliamentary majority has overturned the presidential veto of the controversial offshore law, a day after doing the same for the foreign agent law. 

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29 May 2024, 19:48

We’re ending our coverage for today.

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29 May 2024, 19:46

Finance and Budget Committee chair: offshores don’t concern money at all

Chair of the Parliamentary Finance and Budget Committee, Paata Kvizhinadze, told journalists that the offshore law ‘does not concern money at all’.

‘These offshores are not the offshores they were 30 years ago. Our friends, America, Europe, have restricted a lot and all information can be obtained from offshore’, he said.

‘If, for example, the Ministry of Finance sends a question, [all the information] comes. In particular, who is it founded by, who has given the power of attorney, who is behind it, etc’, said Kvizhinadze. ‘As for money, it’s not about money at all’.

29 May 2024, 18:45

Votes reportedly falsified in overruling of offshore law veto

Mtavari Arkhi has reported that four Georgian Dream MPs listed as having voted in favour of the amendments to the tax code were not present in the session during the vote.

The MPs reported to have not been there during the voting process were Beka Odisharia, Gocha Enukidze, Resan Kontselidze, and Dito Samkharadze.

29 May 2024, 17:50

Zarkua: everything will be fine after we ban LGBT propaganda

Georgian Dream MP Irakli Zarkua told the media that ‘everything will be fine’ after the ruling party bans ‘LGBT propaganda’.

 ‘We passed the [foreign  agent] law, [former president Mikheil] Saakashvili is also in prison, we will also initiate the constitutional amendment against LGBT propaganda and everything will be fine’, he said according to IPN.

Georgian Dream announced constitutional amendments that would outlaw what it terms queer ‘propaganda’ in March. The amendments would ban public demonstrations or publications that it deemed to ‘popularise same-sex family or intimate relations’. The proposed changes would also ban gender transitioning.

29 May 2024, 17:49

Public Defender: detained protester tried to swallow a razor ‘but changed his mind’

Georgia’s Public Defender’s Office said that they visited the two detained foreign agent law protesters who were reportedly harassed in detention.

They said that one of the detainees attempted to self-harm by swallowing a razor, ‘but then changed his mind’. 

They added that the second detainee experienced ‘incompatibility’ with other prisoners in his cell ‘due to his political views’ and that they ‘often argued’.

‘There was no verbal or physical abuse […] The prisoner requested that his cell be changed, which was granted’.

The two detainees were charged with damaging the barricade set up in front of parliament during the foreign agent law protests.

Their lawyer warned that they were being harassed in prison.

29 May 2024, 16:24

Detainees reportedly harassed in prison

The lawyer of one of two people detained on charges of damaging the barrier in front of parliament during a protest against the foreign agent law stated that the detainees had been severely harassed by other prisoners, after being ‘deliberately’ placed in cells where such conflicts were likely to arise. 

‘They are in a very bad psychological condition’, lawyer Teko Megeneishvili told IPN. ‘They are prevented from doing absolutely everything, they cannot live, they cannot eat as they want, they cannot use the toilet normally, the prisoners impose restrictions on absolutely everything to them, because they were detained at the protest, that is why they have confrontations.’

Megeneishvili added that they were requesting that the detainees be granted bail. 

The 19- and 23-year-old detainees were publicly identified by the Interior Ministry in a video on their detention. 

29 May 2024, 15:37

Parliament overturns President’s veto on tax code amendments

Parliament has overturned President Salome Zourabichvili’s veto on their amendments to the tax code. The amendments would exempt offshore assets brought into Georgia from taxes, and include incentives for offshore companies to transfer their assets to the country.

29 May 2024, 14:33

Next steps for the foreign agent law

The Social Justice Center’s director for democracy and justice, Guram Imnadze, told OC Media that the foreign agent law will come into force 60 days from when either President Salome Zourabichvili or parliamentary speaker Shalva Papuashvili sign it.

Parliament is expected to resubmit the law to Zourabichvili after overturning her veto on Tuesday, after which Zourabichvili has five days to either sign the law or reject it again. Imnadze noted that the law might already have been resubmitted to the president. 

Should Zourabichvili refuse to sign the law, it returns to parliament for Speaker Papuashvili’s final approval.

The law comes into effect in 60 days following his signature.

Imnadze said that he expected Zourabichvili to refuse to sign the law.

He added that in the period before the law comes into effect, the Ministry of Justice is expected to create a database and registry for organisations which receive 20% of their funding from abroad, and clarify their methodology of monitoring the organisations and their registry.

‘Bylaws are adopted solely by the Minister of Justice and […] approval from the parliament or government is not required’, he said.

After the bylaws and registry are established, NGOs will have 30 days to register and provide financial declarations. 

According to RFE/RL, such declarations would include information about financial and material income received in the previous year, with the source, amount, and purpose of the income required. Organisations would also be required to declare the amount of money spent in the previous year, and what the money was spent on. 

29 May 2024, 13:54

Ruling party member to leave party in protest

Levan Berdzenashvili, a member of the Telavi city council as part of the ruling Georgian Dream party has announced he will leave the party and his position in the council in protest against the adoption of the foreign agent law.

‘As I said, I will keep my word to the end. This is a protest against the law passed by the Parliament’, Berdzenashvili told RFE/RL.

Berdzenashvili swore at a session of the City Council on 26 April that if the ruling team did not withdraw the foreign agent law, he would leave the party and his position.

29 May 2024, 13:38

Offshore veto set to be overruled

The president’s veto of the controversial offshore bill is being discussed in a parliamentary plenary session. The parliamentary majority is expected to overturn the veto today. 

According to the amendments, taxes and duties would be removed from offshore assets transferred to Georgia, and tax incentives would be provided to all offshore companies that transfer their assets to Georgia by 1 January 2028. 

[Read more: Georgian Dream eliminates taxes on offshore assets brought to Georgia]

The amendments were widely seen as both preparing the ruling party’s founder, Bidzina Ivanishvili, for expected sanctions following the foreign agent law’s passing, and as establishing Georgia as a hub for holding offshore assets. 

29 May 2024, 13:37

Key events from yesterday

  • The parliamentary majority voted to adopt the foreign agent law after overturning the presidential veto, with 84 votes for the law’s adoption and four against. 
  • Opposition groups, civil society organisations, and Georgia’s Western partners condemned the parliament’s actions, and thousands protested the overturning of the law’s veto and adoption of the law outside parliament. 
  • President Salome Zourabichvili addressed protesters, calling on them to rally for the elections set to take place in October.  She added that the election would decide if the country had ‘a European future or Russian slavery’. 


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