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Protests Swell in Georgia Over ‘Overseas Pursuits’ Invoice

Safety forces clashed with protesters in Georgia’s capital on Wednesday night time after the Japanese European nation’s Parliament superior controversial new laws that has ignited weeks of demonstrations.

Because the governing occasion, Georgian Dream, pushed a invoice by way of Parliament early final month that the pro-Western opposition believes might be used to crack down on dissent and hamper the nation’s efforts to affix the European Union, protesters have taken to the streets of the capital, Tbilisi, night time after night time.

Their numbers swelled on Wednesday after Parliament authorised the invoice within the second of three required votes.

The draft regulation would require nongovernmental teams and media shops that obtain greater than 20 p.c of their funding from international sources to register as organizations “carrying the pursuits of a international energy” and supply annual monetary statements about their actions. Violations would incur hefty fines.

It resembles a 2012 regulation in Russia that has been used to stifle anti-Kremlin advocacy teams and media organizations. Critics say that one purpose of the brand new invoice, which they name “the Russian regulation,” is to align Georgia, a former Soviet nation of three.6 million, extra intently with Moscow.

“The Georgian individuals desire a European future for his or her nation,” she wrote on X. “Georgia is at a crossroads. It ought to keep the course on the highway to Europe.”

The federal government — which has been led by Georgian Dream since 2012 — says the invoice is geared toward making international funding extra clear and was modeled on an American regulation courting to 1938 and different related measures handed or proposed by different Western international locations.

It tried to move the regulation final 12 months however backed down within the face of large-scale protests. This time, the occasion seems decided to push it by way of Parliament, although legislators will almost definitely should override a veto by the nation’s president, Salome Zourabichvili.

Ms. Zourabichvili, whose duties are largely ceremonial in Georgia’s parliamentary system, was endorsed by Georgian Dream when she was elected in 2018, however she has since change into a fierce critic of the governing occasion.

Marika Kochiashvili contributed reporting.

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