Georgian Lawmakers Move Closer to Passing ‘Russian Law’ Targeting the Media. Protesters Gather Again


Georgia’s Parliament moved a step closer on May 1 to passing a law that critics fear will stifle media freedom and endanger the country’s European Union membership bid, as police used water cannons, tear gas, and pepper spray against the tens of thousands of protesters who thronged surrounding streets.

Dozens of people were arrested the night before, and mass rallies have continued daily in the capital, Tbilisi. Protesters denounce the bill as “the Russian law” because neighboring Russia uses similar legislation to stigmatize independent news media and organizations critical of the Kremlin.

The law would require media and noncommercial organizations to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power,” if they receive more than 20 percent of funding from abroad. The ruling Georgian Dream party withdrew a similar proposal last year after large crowds protested.

Russia-Georgia relations have been complicated and turbulent since the Soviet Union’s collapse in the early 1990s. The two countries fought a short war in 2008 that ended with Georgia losing control of two Russia-friendly separatist regions.

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