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Georgia’s Foreign Agent Law Live | Parliament to vote on veto next week

20 May 2024
A protest against the foreign agent law in Tbilisi on 19 May. Photo: Mariam Nikuradze/OC Media.

Demonstrations continue over Georgia’s foreign agent law, with president Salome Zourabichvili vetoing the law over the weekend.

Read more:

20 May 2024, 20:29

We’re ending our coverage for today.

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20 May 2024, 20:06

Protesters against the foreign agent law have gathered in front of parliament in Tbilisi.

Protesters against the foreign agent law on 20 May 2024. Robin Fabbro/OC Media.

20 May 2024, 19:48

Protesters to march from parliament to Interior Ministry on Friday

Protesters have planned a march from parliament to the Interior Ministry in solidarity with those arrested or injured by the police during the protests against the foreign agent law. 

20 May 2024, 19:12

Georgian Dream drafts new amendments to electoral code

Georgian Dream MPs have drafted amendments to the electoral code that would allow the Central Election Commission (CEC) to issue rulings and decisions with a simple majority instead of with the support of two thirds of its members.

The amendments would also abolish the CEC’s advisory group.

The draft amendments are the latest in a series of controversial changes the ruling party made to the electoral code, including amendments that gave parliament and its speaker more power in deciding the makeup of the CEC.

Georgia is expected to hold parliamentary elections in October.

20 May 2024, 18:55

Authorities reinforce barriers in front of parliament

Parliamentary staff have installed reinforced barriers in front of parliament, after they were torn down by protesters last week.

Protesters accused of tearing the barriers down currently face up to six years in prison if found guilty.

20 May 2024, 17:43

Tbilisi City Court postpones trials of 20 foreign agent law protesters

Mtavari Arkhi has reported that the Tbilisi City Court pushed the dates of 20 out of 54 cases of foreign agent law protesters until 28 May.

They added that the court found Saba Skhvitaridze, an activist protesting against the law, guilty of blocking a road during the protests, fining him ₾500 ($180).

20 May 2024, 17:41

Special Investigative Service and Data Protection Service chiefs to speak in parliament

Parliament has summoned Koka Katsitadze, the head of the Special Investigative Service, and the head of the Personal Data Protection Service, Lela Janashvili, to discuss police violence against protesters and threats received by critics of the foreign agent law.

Katsitadze is expected to report to the Human Rights Protection Committee about his agency’s investigation into the police’s use of excess force to disperse protesters and politicians and their prevention of journalists from covering the protests.

The agency announced it was investigating reports of police violence earlier this month, but has yet to discuss its findings.

The Personal Data Protection Service’s Janashvili was summoned by the opposition Euro-optimists parliamentary group to discuss widespread reports by critics of the foreign agent law of having received threatening calls from unknown people.

In recordings purported to be of the calls shared by those targeted, the callers are heard cursing at and threatening people and demanding explanations as to why they opposed the foreign agent law.

20 May 2024, 16:02

Politico: US could sanction Georgian politicians over foreign agent law

Citing a leaked draft bill, Politico has reported that the US Congress could move to sanction Georgian officials and law enforcement and security figures.

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs James O’Brien last week warned that the US could sanction officials in Georgia over the foreign agent law.

20 May 2024, 15:42

Several government critics attacked over the weekend

On Friday, activist and foreign agent law protester Luka Shvelidze claimed that he was attacked by four unknown people who were waiting for him outside his home.

A member of the opposition United National Movement party, Irakli Pavlenishvili, also said that he, his wife, and their one-year-old child, were approached and threatened by a group of five masked people on Friday noon.

On Sunday, student activist Niko Managadze, the founder of the For Freedom student movement, wrote on Facebook that four unknown individuals had been waiting for him at the entrance of his home. He said that a journalist present at the scene warned him about the group.

In the last few weeks, several opposition activists and politicians reported being attacked by unknown people at their homes.

[Read more: Government critics attacked outside their homes in Georgia]

20 May 2024, 14:40

Parliamentary committee rejects president’s offshore law veto

Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee has rejected President Salome Zourabichvili’s veto on amendments to the tax code that would exempt offshore assets from taxes. 

The amendments now have to be voted on in a plenary session.

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

20 May 2024, 13:03

Georgian Dream to overrule veto next week

The speaker of parliament Shalva Papuashvili has announced the ruling party intends to overrule the President’s veto during a plenary session next week.

20 May 2024, 13:01

Fifty-four cases due in court today

According to Publika, Tbilisi City Court will today consider administrative charges against 54 people accused of illegally blocking a road as part of their protest against the foreign agent law.

20 May 2024, 13:00

Kobakhidze: their goal is the Ukrainisation of Georgia

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has stated at the government session that ‘one of the leaders of the demonstrations said a few days ago that he envies Ukrainians’. 

‘I would say that this is not an accidental attempt, the main goal, the task that drives these people is the Ukrainisation of Georgia, that is, that Georgia shares the fate of Ukraine’, he claimed while not specifying who exactly he meant.

20 May 2024, 12:58

Offshore veto to be considered today in the parliament

Parliament is debating the President’s remarks on the Offshore Law at a session of the Budget and Finance Committee.

President Salome Zourabichvili vetoed the law on 3 May and returned the amendments to the Tax Code to the parliament with motivated remarks.

The President pointed out that the amendments created risked undermining investor confidence in Georgia.

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

20 May 2024, 12:49

Key events from the weekend

  • President Salome Zourabichvili vetoed the foreign agent law on Saturday. The President added only one article, which states that the law would be effective within one day of its enactment and would be valid for just a single day. Parliament must now vote to adopt either this version or the one originally passed.
  • Zourabichvili also said in an interview with the French publication La Tribune Dimanche that she was hoping to see French President Emmanuel Macron in Tbilisi on Georgia’s Independence Day, on 26 May.
  • On Saturday, several dozen unknown people attacked a group of students who were waiting to picket Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze in the yard of Tbilisi State University.
  • Luka Shvelidze, an activist and critic of the law, stated on Saturday that four unknown people were waiting for him outside his house and had attacked him. 
  • There have been widespread reports on social media of demonstrators against being summoned to court for various alleged offences, including criminal ones.
  • Demonstrations continued over the weekend in Tbilisi.
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