WEBINAR: Demonstrations in Georgia Against the Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence

On May 7, 2024, Strategic Analysis organized the fourth online webinar this year with our Young Leaders‘ Programme members. The discussion focused on protests in Georgia against the law about media and NGOs.

On May 1, Georgian police resorted to tear gas and water cannons to disperse a crowd of 40,000 outside the parliament in Tbilisi, protesting against the law on transparency of foreign influence. This law is sharply criticized by both protesters and the West, blaming the government for following the Russian example.

While Slovakia and other countries celebrated the 20th anniversary of joining the EU, demonstrators in Tbilisi played Beethoven’s „Ode to Joy“ – but for a completely different reason. Thousands have gathered outside the parliament multiple times to protest against the law on foreign influence, which they compare to Russia’s legislation on foreign agents.

The new law would force Georgian human rights organizations, media, and NGOs to register as „organizations promoting the interests of foreign powers“ if more than 20 percent of their funding comes from abroad. The ruling party, Georgian Dream, unsuccessfully tried to push through a similar law last year, which met with strong opposition and had to be withdrawn. Now they are trying again, and demonstrators are relentless in their opposition.

The demonstrations have turned violent, with police using tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets. Several demonstrators ended up in the hospital, and others were arrested on the spot. The new legislation and police violence have been condemned by Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.