Become an OC Media Member

Support independent journalism in the Caucasus: Join today

Become a member

Georgia’s Foreign Agent Law Live | Parliament prepares to overturn veto

27 May 2024
Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the centre of Tbilisi on Sunday. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media

Legal committee hearings to discuss overturning the president’s veto of the foreign agent law have begun in Georgia’s parliament. 

Read more:

27 May 2024, 20:27

We’re ending our coverage for today.

If you find our work helpful during this difficult time for media based in Georgia, please consider becoming an OC Media member.

27 May 2024, 20:16

Papuashvili reiterates that parliament will overrule veto

The Speaker of the Parliament, Shalva Papuashvili, has reiterated at a press briefing that ‘of course, the parliament will definitely overcome the veto’.

During the briefing, Papuashvili also condemned President Zourabichvili’s ‘Georgian Charter’ initiative to form a temporary government after the elections to carry out reforms, saying its goals and objectives were that of a ‘War Charter’.

‘Overall, we see what we have been talking about for so long, that there is no fragmentation in the opposition. In fact, it is one force and Salome Zourabichvili is a part of this radical force, the [oppositional United] National Movement’, he said.

‘Yesterday we saw exactly this in the form of a so-called Charter, which we can really call a “War Charter”, because here all the war parties have come together and have a common “War Charter” ’.

27 May 2024, 18:30

Swedish foreign minister: ‘no business as usual’

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström has reportedly told reporters at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels that the foreign agent law is ‘unacceptable’ because it mirrors Russia’s foreign agent law.

He reportedly said it ‘cannot be business as usual with Georgia’, and that the position of the Swedish Government was ‘very clear’.

‘So we have to be on the side of the Georgian people, and this calls for a balanced approach from the EU’, Billström said.

27 May 2024, 18:06

Two more demonstrations announced tomorrow

Demonstrations against the foreign agent law have also been announced at 11:00 in front of the Parliament, and at 19:00 a march of students will start from metro Rustaveli towards the Parliament.

27 May 2024, 16:20

Demonstration announced for tomorrow

A demonstration against the foreign agent law has been announced for tomorrow at 17:00 in front of parliament.

The parliamentary majority is expected to overrule the president’s veto on tomorrow’s plenary session.

27 May 2024, 16:08

Pushkov: Zourabichvili ‘the main foreign agent of Georgia’

Alexei Pushkov, a member of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Building, has labelled President Salome Zourabichvili ‘the main foreign agent of Georgia’.

‘Zourabichvili is the main foreign agent in Georgia, who has long and consciously been working to subjugate the country to external forces’, he wrote on Telegram.

‘For this reason, she opposes the foreign agent law: in its content this law concerns herself, and in its vector it is directed against her activities’, he said.

27 May 2024, 15:26

RFE/RL Europe editor: EU Foreign Council to prepare an ‘options paper’ for foreign agent law

RFE/RL’s Europe editor, Rikard Jozwiak, has said that at the meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council has found that the foreign agent law violated ‘three out of nine recommendations and will prepare an options paper ahead of the next meeting in June’.

27 May 2024, 15:12

Girchi — New Political Centre announces it won’t join president’s charter

Despite stating that his party would not sign the charter, Iago Khvichia, the chair of Girchi — New Political Centre, not to be confused with Girchi — More Freedom, said that his party was ‘ready to participate in any discussion and try to make this document better’.

Last month, Georgian Dream supported an initiative cancelling gender quotas in parliament put forth by Girchi — New Political Centre.

[Read more: Georgian parliament rushes amendments to abolish gender quotas]

27 May 2024, 14:32

Public defender criticises president over veto

Public defender Levan Ioseliani has criticised the president for vetoing the foreign agent law without leaving room to make amendments.

Speaking to journalists after the legal affairs committee, Ioseliani accused the president of failing to ‘create a discussion space where the parties can converge their positions’.

He said the President should have presented her remarks on the law ‘in a different way’.

The president has insisted the law was fundamentally flawed and could not be improved upon, sentiments echoed by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission report.

Ioseliani nonetheless called on Georgian Dream not to overrule the veto.

‘Not passing this law is the solution’, he said.

27 May 2024, 14:31

Speaker bars online media from covering sessions indefinitely

Parliamentary speaker Shalva Papuashvili has signed an order raising parliament’s security level indefinitely, barring online media journalists and visitors from attending sessions in parliament.

Only TV journalists were allowed to attend and cover discussions of the foreign agent law since its reintroduction in April.

27 May 2024, 14:14

US President and VP ‘applaud’ Zourabichvili’s veto

US Vice President Kamala Harris has written to President Salome Zourabichvili on behalf of herself and President Joe Biden, saying that they have been ‘following events in Georgia with great concern’.

‘We worry about developments, such as the Georgian parliament’s recent passage of the foreign agents bill, that could threaten Georgia’s democracy and undermine Georgia’s relationship with the United States and Europe’, wrote Harris.

‘We applaud your recent actions to veto that anti-democratic measure and your commitment to protect civil society as it comes under threat in Georgia’.

27 May 2024, 13:18

Borrell: government is derailing from the European track

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell told journalists before today’s meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, that ‘this will be the first moment in which the Ministers will assess the situation in Georgia’. 

‘It is clear that the government is derailing from the European track, and [EU Foreign] Ministers will have to decide what to do’, said Borrell. 

‘Let’s see what the Ministers can discuss and decide about how the European Union can react with respect to the crisis in Ukraine, in the Middle East and Georgia’, he said.

27 May 2024, 13:13

Opposition supports President’s charter for post-election pro-European government

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili on Sunday invited opposition parties to sign a ‘Georgian Charter’ pledging to support the President’s nominations for a new, temporary government after the elections with the stated aim of carrying out pro-European reforms.

[Read more: President Zourabichvili outlines plan for temporary government following elections]

A number of opposition parties and figures have vowed to sign the charter. These include the United National Movement, Lelo, Ahali, Girchi — More Freedom, Droa, European Georgia, Strategy Aghmashenebeli as well as independent MP Khatia Dekanoidze from the parliamentary Europtimists group.

27 May 2024, 13:09

Legal Affairs Committee rejects veto amendments

Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee did not support the President’s motivated remarks on the foreign agent law, which had called for the law to be withdrawn. 

The parliamentary majority is expected to overturn the President’s veto of the law at tomorrow’s plenary session.

27 May 2024, 12:43

NATO calls on Georgia to drop foreign agent law

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly yesterday called the foreign agent law ‘a step backwards for Georgia’s democracy’ and urged the ruling Georgian Dream party to withdraw it.

‘[The law] runs counter to its NATO as well as EU aspirations and values’, the statement read. ‘If this bill becomes law, it will severely damage freedom of speech and association and undermine Georgia’s vibrant civil society and media landscape’.

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly noted that ‘Georgia stands at a crossroads’ and added if the country wants to demonstrate its readiness to join NATO in the future, ‘they must return onto the path of democratic reform and democratic consolidation’.

‘The Georgian people have demonstrated again and again that they want a democratic Georgia – in the EU and in NATO’, the statement read. ‘We will continue to support them and their aspirations.’

27 May 2024, 12:31

Legal Affairs Committee discussion of veto underway

A session of parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee to discuss President Salome Zourabichvili’s veto of the foreign agent law is taking place amidst heated arguments between politicians in attendance. 

Protesters against the foreign agent law held a demonstration in the morning behind the parliament building.

27 May 2024, 12:16

Key events from the weekend

  • Further protests were held over the weekend. A teachers’ march on Saturday was followed by a march to mark Georgia’s Independence Day on Sunday that attracted tens of thousands. 
  • At the official celebration of Georgia’s independence day, President Salome Zourabichvili advocated for a pro-European foreign policy direction and criticised the government’s pro-Russian direction, stating that she was ‘surprised by the fact that I have to convince some people of who is the enemy and who is the friend’. Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze subsequently called Zourabichvili a ‘traitor’ in his speech. 
  • Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze was challenged by students while attending a lecture at Tbilisi State University (TSU) on Saturday. The Prime Minister’s security have reportedly previously injured students protesting at his weekly lectures. 
  • President Salome Zourabichvili invited opposition parties to sign a ‘Georgian Charter’ pledging to support the President’s nominations for a new, temporary government after the elections with the stated aim of carrying out pro-European reforms. A number of major opposition parties signalled their readiness to join the charter.
Right now, online media in Georgia is in dire need of safety equipment, legal support, and technology as we cover increasingly challenging circumstances. Support small, independent media outlets in Georgia via our collective fundraiser.

Interested in directly assisting OC Media? Consider becoming a member.