freedom of speech

Georgian ruling party pursues foreign agents law despite previous protests and prospect of EU candidacy


You see an error in the text - select the fragment and press Ctrl + Enter

In Georgia, the ruling party Georgian Dream has announced its intention to reintroduce the foreign agents bill that sparked protests in 2023. The bill mandates organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as “foreign agents.” This decision primarily targets civil society organizations and the media. Additionally, it may have repercussions for small and medium publishers.

Georgian Dream withdrew its attempt to introduce the bill in March 2023 following two nights of violent unrest in Tbilisi and criticism from the Western countries that labeled the move as an example of democratic regression. According to the leader of the parliamentary majority, Mamuka Mdinaradze, the bill would be passed before parliament breaks up for an election in October.


Georgia was granted EU candidacy status in December, yet the bill does not reflect the political will to fulfill the EU’s demands concerning human rights in particular, causing doubt about Georgia’s path towards EU integration.


“Over the last two years, government intimidation, harassment, and interference in the work of critical voices in the cultural sphere have increased significantly, suggesting that the government feels threatened by a vibrant and independent cultural sector,” state the authors of PEN America’s latest report “Taming Culture in Georgia” (Nov. 2, 2023).


The newly appointed Director of the Writers’ House of Georgia, Ketevan Dumbadze, is a member of parliament from the Georgian Dream party. According to the report, she has offered to support her party’s efforts to target “foreign influence” (funding for Georgian civil society initiatives).


Gvantsa Jobava, a Georgian publisher, former chairperson of the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association, and now Vice President of the International Publishers Association, is strongly against the bill, referring to it as “the Russian law.”


She said, “Our government probably hopes that we are very bored and will easily give up this time, or that we are tired and busy with our own lives and commitments, that we are less clever and it will be easier to brainwash us, that we are frightened and the fear will make us hide, or that we are much more pessimistic than we were last year, but this is not true. We love the victory that belongs to all of us, to thousands of Georgian people; no tiredness, no lack of knowledge, no pessimism, and no fear will stop us from preserving our common achievement. The victory I’m talking about gained us the European Union candidacy status, so now we have much more to lose. Now we have much more trust in the power of a united society, united around the common goal, united to preserve our homeland and our future in this country.”


Jobava also accuses the Georgian government of attempting Russification:

“Georgian students, NGOs, and civil society have already declared that if the bill is passed, they will return to the streets to protect their country from Russification. This is my plan too […]. As the first Georgian woman activist and national hero Maro Makashvili once said, ‘our victory will be glorious’ and this is one of the most important mottos of the Georgian people’s movement today.”


Copy editing: Tanya Mykhaylychenko