Central Asia

Brawl Breaks Out In Georgia’s Parliament Over “Foreign Agent” Law

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A brawl broke out Monday in Georgia’s parliament as a parliamentary committee debated a bill regarding “foreign agents,” which critics have claimed is modeled after legislation in neighboring Russia.

Video from inside the parliament building shows a brief, violent altercation between lawmakers after the chairman of the chamber’s legal affairs committee appears to attack the leader of the United National Movement opposition party, which opposes the measure.

Last month the governing Georgian Dream party announced its support for the bill. The legislation still needs to go through other stages of the approval process before it can be passed.

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If the bill becomes law, it would require organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from overseas to register as “foreign agents” and submit to monitoring by the Justice Ministry. Should an organization not register or submit to monitoring, it would face hefty fines.

Opponents of the legislation argue that it closely resembles a Russian law passed in 2012, that has since been consistently expanded and has been used to crack down on civil society and independent media in Russia. Many see the proposed law as symbolic of a concerning and unwanted authoritarian shift in Georgia.

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