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Experts suspect the Kremlin is behind the new law

Experts suspect the Kremlin is behind the new law

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People in Georgia have been protesting against a government law for weeks. One expert suspects Russian influence behind the project.

Tbilisi – In recent days, Georgia has witnessed huge demonstrations against the law planned by the government. The law stipulates that NGOs that receive more than 20 percent of their funds from abroad must identify the source of the funds and register with the authorities. According to one expert, the Kremlin may be behind the proposed law in Georgia.

Protests in Georgia: Experts suspect the Kremlin is behind the law

Thousands of people protested against the law in Georgia on Friday (May 3) with slogans such as “No to the Russian government” or “We will not tire.” The bill was approved on second reading on Wednesday (May 1). But for weeks, people have taken to the streets and confronted police, who have responded to the demonstrations with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets.

Oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili (left) is believed to be the driving force behind the controversial law in Georgia. © Photomontage Shakh Ayvazov / Zurab Tsertsvadze / German Press Agency

Critics accuse Georgia's Russia-allied government of modeling the law on Russia's “proxy law.” “In terms of internal politics, there is actually no explanation for this,” Stefan Mallerius, representative of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Tbilisi, says in ZDF magazine today. The Georgian government withdrew the “Russian law,” as some called it, in March 2023 after massive protests. For Mallerius, the fact that it will now come into force comes “suddenly.”

Georgia: Law through “foreign interference”

The head of the regional program in the South Caucasus suspects “interference from abroad, specifically from Russia.” “There has to be a connection from the Kremlin or the Kremlin region,” he says. Malerios suspects that Georgian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is considered the country's unofficial decision-maker, is behind the law. Malerius continues to speculate, saying, “He was told or made clear that he had to introduce this law now.” Ivanishvili was the initiator of the inter-party alliance and today's ruling party, the Georgian Dream.

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The law still needs Parliament's approval on a third reading. This is scheduled to be done within two weeks. Pro-European President Salome Zurabishvili is expected to veto the measure. But pro-government representatives in parliament have a sufficient majority to override the president's veto. The ruling party aims for the law to enter into force in mid-May. Georgia has been an official candidate for European Union membership since last December. Green Party politician Anton Hofreiter sees Georgia's accession as being at risk from the law. (FCA/AFP)