Georgian leader blocks enactment of government's contentious "foreign agents" bill

(MENAFN) Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili has taken a decisive step to block the enactment of the government's contentious "foreign agents" bill, asserting that its implementation would undermine Georgia's pursuit of European Union membership. The bill, known as the Transparency of Foreign Influence Act, which passed through Georgia's parliament amid widespread public dissent, has been met with vehement opposition and accusations of resembling Russian legislation aimed at stifling dissent.

Under the proposed legislation, NGOs, media entities, and individuals receiving significant funding from abroad would be required to register as entities promoting the interests of foreign powers and disclose their sources of funding. Failure to adhere to these requirements could result in substantial fines. Critics of the bill, likening it to Russia's laws on foreign agents, argue that it poses a serious threat to freedom of expression and would be exploited to suppress political opposition.

President Zourabichvili, in a video statement shared on social media, declared the bill incompatible with Georgian constitutional principles and European standards. She emphasized that the legislation represents a significant impediment to Georgia's path towards European integration. Asserting the legal validity of her veto, Zourabichvili underscored the unacceptability of the bill in its current form, dismissing prospects for amendments or improvements.

However, despite the presidential veto, the fate of the bill remains uncertain, as the ruling Georgian Dream party commands a majority in parliament. The party is widely anticipated to override the veto, raising concerns about the erosion of democratic norms and the potential implications for Georgia's international standing. As tensions persist over the controversial legislation, the country faces a critical juncture in its democratic development and European aspirations.



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