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Asia and the Pacific
Western Asia

Georgia - April 2024

Return of ‘foreign agents’ bill sparks massive protests

In the face of major street protests in Tbilisi and international criticism, the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party returned the ‘foreign agents’ bill to parliament in late April and passed it on the third reading on 14 May. The law requires any civic organisations that receive more than 20 per cent of their funding from abroad to register as ‘organisations carrying the interests of a foreign power’ and includes significant fines for noncompliance. Protesters and opposition groups argued the law is designed to undermine Georgia’s EU accession and move it into Russia’s sphere of influence, while the government insists it is necessary to protect Georgia’s political sovereignty. The European Commission has said it previously informed GD officials that passing the bill would result in a suspension of Georgia’s EU accession processes. The bill was previously introduced and removed in March 2023 after similar protests and significant Western criticism. Over 100 protesters have been arrested, reports of police brutality have been common, and critics of the government have been attacked by unknown assailants outside their homes. Georgian Dream has a sufficient majority to override President Salome Zourabichvili’s planned veto and has stated it intends to do so.    

Sources: Eurasianet, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, OC Media, International IDEA, Financial Times 

Primary categories and factors
Rights -1 Rights  (-1)
Civil Liberties
Freedom of Association and Assembly
Participation -1 Participation  (-1)
Civil Society
Secondary categories and factors
Rule of Law Rule of Law
Personal Integrity and Security

Offshore tax amnesty plan raises suspicion

Georgia’s parliament introduced and adopted a new tax law through a fast-track procedure in April, which exempts assets currently held outside of Georgia from many taxes or duties if they are repatriated before 1 January 2028. Parliament considered and passed the amendments in eight days while significant street protests were being held outside the parliament building against the ‘foreign agents’ legislation. Analysts and opposition politicians argue the law is intended to allow the oligarch, Bidzina Ivanishvili, Georgia’s wealthiest man and the leader and financier of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, to move his assets into Georgia in order to evade future possible financial sanctions from the United States or European Union. A close associate of Ivanishvili, Otar Partskhaladze, was sanctioned by the United States in September 2023, and the spectre of sanctions has complicated Ivanishvilis’s ability to collect damages in his long-running legal feud with Credit Suisse. 

Sources: OC Media,, Blackstone Chambers, Jam News 

Primary categories and factors
Rule of Law -1 Rule of Law  (-1)
Absence of Corruption

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