Moscow issues ominous threats as Georgians fight for their imperiled democracy.
Last week, the Georgian parliament, led by the Georgian Dream (GD) party, advanced new legislation that would label civil society and media organizations that receive at least 20 percent of their funding from foreign entities as foreign agents. In addition to the stigma of such a label, the government would be able to conduct investigations, access personal data, demand detailed reporting, and levy restrictions, fines, and prison sentences on media and civic groups deemed to be non-compliant. The legislation closely resembles the Russian Foreign Agents Act, which the European Court of Human Rights found violated freedom of association and assembly and effectively handicapped the country’s civil sector.
Understanding the new law for what it was—an attack on democracy and act of repression—tens of thousands of Georgian citizens took to the street in Tbilisi, the capital, and other cities to peacefully protest. Security forces assaulted them and arrested participants. It was a familiar chapter from the autocrat’s playbook.