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The Parliament of Georgia passes the law Foreign Agents


The speaker of Georgia's parliament said he gave final approval on Monday to a controversial "foreign agents" bill, which has sparked weeks of protests from opponents who say it will restrict media freedom and jeopardize Georgia's chances of joining the European Union.

The Georgian parliament adopted the law last week, overriding President Salome Zurabishvili's veto.

Its opponents point out that it is anti-democratic and is in line with a law used by Russia to suppress dissent.

Brussels warned that the move would derail the Black Sea country's efforts to join the European Union, and the United States waved measures to ban visas and impose sanctions on individuals based on the law.

“Today (Monday) I signed the Foreign Influence Transparency Law, whose primary goal is to enhance the sustainability of Georgia’s political, economic and social systems,” Babuashvili said in a statement.

His signature is the last stage before the law becomes effective.

The law forces NGOs and media platforms that receive at least a fifth of their funding from abroad to register themselves as “organizations seeking to advance the interests of an external power.”

The project sparked massive daily protests that continued for nearly two months, during which the police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters, and beat and arrested the demonstrators.

The "Georgian Dream" party faces increasing accusations of alienating Georgia from the West and returning it to Russia's orbit. But he stresses that he is committed to Georgia's European aspirations and says the law will ensure "transparency" regarding Western-funded groups that he says are undermining the country's sovereignty.

Dozens of Georgian human rights and media organizations have pledged not to comply with the law and intend to challenge it before the country's Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

Georgian activists, independent journalists, and opposition politicians accuse the government of carrying out a coordinated campaign of violence and threats against leaders of non-governmental organizations.

The level of tension is increasing in the country located in the Caucasus region ahead of the parliamentary elections scheduled for October.

The elections are seen as a major test of democracy more than three decades after Tbilisi gained its independence with the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Georgian constitution enshrines the country's effort to join the European Union, a move that opinion polls say has the support of more than 80 percent of the population.

The Parliament of Georgia  is the supreme national legislature of Georgia. It is a unicameral parliament, currently consisting of 150 members; of these, 120 are proportional representatives and 30 are elected through single-member district plurality system, representing their constituencies. According to the 2017 constitutional amendments, the Parliament will transfer to fully proportional representation in 2024.

All members of the Parliament are elected for four years on the basis of universal suffrage. The Constitution of Georgia grants the Parliament of Georgia a central legislative power, which is limited by the legislatures of the autonomous republics of Adjara and Abkhazia.

The idea of limiting royal power and creating a parliamentary-type body of government was conceived among the aristocrats and citizens in the 12th century Kingdom of Georgia, during the reign of Queen Tamar, the first Georgian female monarch.

In the view of Queen Tamar's oppositionists and their leader, Qutlu Arslan, the first Georgian Parliament was to be formed of two "Chambers": a) Darbazi – or assembly of aristocrats and influential citizens who would meet from time to time to take decisions on the processes occurring in the country, the implementation of these decisions devolving on the monarch b) Karavi – a body in permanent session between the meetings of the Darbazi. The confrontation ended in the victory of the supporters of royal power. Qutlu Arslan was arrested on the Queen's order.[citation needed] However, Queen Tamar did during her reign have a chamber of advisors, who could propose laws for the monarch however did not have final say about laws and how the country should be governed.

Subsequently, it was only in 1906 that the Georgians were afforded the opportunity of sending their representatives to a parliamentary body of government, to the Second State Duma (from 1801 Georgia had been incorporated in the Russian Empire). Georgian deputies to the Duma were Noe Zhordania (later the President of independent Georgia in 1918–21), Ilia Chavchavadze (founder of the Georgian National Movement), Irakli Tsereteli (leader of the Social-Democratic Faction in the Second Duma, later Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia's Provisional Government), Karlo Chkheidze (leader of the Menshevik Faction in the Fourth State Duma, Chairman of the first convocation of the Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies in 1917, and Chairman of the Trans-Caucasian

Mohamed Al-Rawi is a professional journalist since 2011, a media graduate from Kuwait University, a technology expert, a media consultant and a member of the International Organization of Journalists - a member of the fact-checking team at Meta Company. He writes in the fields of entertainment, art, science and technology, and believes that the pen can change everything.