Georgia police arrest 6 people at protest over proposed ‘foreign agents’ bill News
Georgia police arrest 6 people at protest over proposed ‘foreign agents’ bill

Georgia police arrested 6 people on Thursday as part of protests over the country’s proposed “Foreign Agents” Bill.

There have been many reports of police violence against protesters in Georgia, with Human Rights Watch (HRW) calling the violence concerning after speaking to several protesters who were attacked. The Georgian Special Investigation Service (SIS) is currently investigating over 80 reports of violence against protestors. HRW has also called for Georgia to respect the rights of people to gather and protest as the bill approaches its final reading and protests are expected to increase in size.

The “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence” would require any organization in Georgia that receives more than 20% of its income from foreign sources to register as a foreign agent. This sparked widespread protests, as many see this as a bill directly inspired by Russia and say the government is trying to isolate Georgia from the rest of the world. The backlash has been so severe that several Georgian officials have stepped down in protest, most notably Gotcha Javakhishvili, the current ambassador to France.

The bill will greatly limit the ability of foreign companies to have any sway within Georgia; most notably, media companies will struggle to publish their views under the new legislation. Critics says this will allow the Georgian government to impose its will more easily over its opponents, as it will be able to label dissenting views as foreign influence. This comes as political tensions in Georgia continue to rise, with several MPs being targets of beating recently, including the leader of the main opposition party of Georgia, Levan Khabeishvili. Many people in Georgia have seen this bill as a concerning shift towards an anti-EU rhetoric that the country has attempted to shake as ties with Europe had recently grown stronger.