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    International

    Fists fly again in Georgian parliament

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    Fists fly again in Georgian parliament
    • May 14, 2024 • 9 days ago
    in summary
    In a recent tumultuous session of the Georgian parliament, tensions erupted into physical altercations as fists flew between members. The heated exchanges underscored the deep divisions and frustrations within the political landscape of the country. The clashes reflect ongoing challenges in Georgia's political system, highlighting the struggle for power and differing ideologies among its lawmakers. The incident raises concerns about the stability of the nation's democratic processes and the need for dialogue and cooperation to address underlying issues.

    Lawmakers from opposing parties in the Georgian parliament engaged in physical altercations once again, this time during deliberations over a contentious 'foreign agents' bill on Tuesday. Amidst the chaos, the legislation, officially titled 'On The Transparency of Foreign Influence', managed to secure passage in its third and final reading through a majority vote.

    The bill mandates that Georgian non-profit organizations, media entities, and individuals receiving over 20% of their funding from abroad register as entities 'promoting the interests of a foreign power', disclosing their financial sources and donors. Failure to comply could result in fines reaching up to $9,500.

    Before the decisive votes were cast, a fierce debate erupted in the parliamentary chamber, escalating into physical altercations involving several dozen members, which was broadcast live across Georgian television networks from the Parliament building in Tbilisi. This incident marked the third time discussions on the bill spiraled into violence. 

    Georgian parliament fight
    Georgian parliament members in a fist fight.

    The bill has drawn significant criticism, with protesters rallying outside the legislature, only to be dispersed by the police. Critics liken the legislation to a Russian law requiring companies with foreign funding to register as 'foreign agents'. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili has aligned with the demonstrators, pledging to veto the bill, although her authority could be overruled by a simple parliamentary majority.

    Both the United States and the European Union have voiced disapproval, warning that the bill could impede the work of numerous foreign NGOs and jeopardize Georgia's EU candidate status. However, proponents, including Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze, argue that the law aligns with transparency standards and could facilitate closer ties with the EU. Mamuka Mdinaradze, head of the ruling Georgian Dream party, contends that the bill is essential to safeguard

    the country against foreign-funded activism, radical political movements, and biased media narratives.

    The passage of the bill amid such fervent opposition and international scrutiny underscores the deep-seated divisions within Georgian politics and raises concerns about the future trajectory of the nation's democratic processes.

    Amidst the tumult, the episode reflects the broader struggle within Georgian society to balance national sovereignty with international obligations and influence. The clashes in parliament underscore the complexities of navigating geopolitical dynamics, as Georgia seeks to assert its independence while also engaging with global partners. As the nation grapples with internal strife and external pressures, the passage of the 'foreign agents' bill serves as a pivotal moment in shaping the country's identity and its place on the international stage.

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