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Georgian president vetoes 'foreign agent' law

19 May 2024 [18:25] - TODAY.AZ

Georgia's president has vetoed the "foreign agent" law that has sparked weeks of mass street protests, Azernews reports.

On Tuesday MPs passed the controversial law which requires NGOs and independent media that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign donors to register as organisations "bearing the interests of a foreign power".

Salome Zourabichvili said the law "in its essence and spirit, is fundamentally Russian" and an obstacle to Georgia's path to EU membership.

However, her veto is only symbolic as the prime minister's Georgian Dream party has enough members in parliament to override it by holding another vote.

In a televised address broadcast on Saturday, the president said her veto was "legally justified".

"This law cannot be a subject to any change, improvement and embellishment, and thus it’s a very simple veto. This law must be withdrawn, " she said.

Zourabichvili - an opponent of prime minister Irakli Kobakhidze - was widely expected to veto the law.

Meanwhile, Kobakhidze has called on youth protesters to select at least 10 representatives to join a public discussion with him on the controversial law.

According to The Interpressnews agency reported on Friday, he said: "I am ready to not only listen to their critical remarks, but in specific cases, share them. I expect the same attitude from youths."

Critics say the law is inspired by authoritarian legislation neighbouring Russia uses to crush dissent.

Georgia was granted EU candidate status in December 2023, and some are concerned that the law will derail the country's path to EU membership.

Conditions for membership involve candidate countries implementing anti-corruption reforms, increasing government transparency, and promoting civil society.

Massive rallies against the bill have gripped the Caucasus country for nearly a month. Photos and footage posted online in recent days appeared to show violent altercations between protesters and police.


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