Sat. May 25th, 2024

Biden administration condemns Georgia for ‘Kremlin-inspired’ legislation

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May16,2024

The Biden administration is condemning the country of Georgia’s government for pursuing legislation inspired by Russia’s “foreign agents law” that has triggered mass protests in Tbilisi being met with a security crackdown.

“The United States condemns the Kremlin-inspired ‘foreign influence’ legislation advanced in Georgia’s parliament earlier today and the false narrative government officials have adopted to defend it,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement Wednesday night. 

“The statements and actions of the Georgian government are incompatible with the democratic values that underpin membership in the EU and NATO and thus jeopardize Georgia’s path to Euro-Atlantic integration.”

Lawmakers in both parties previously had warned the law could lead to U.S. sanctions and the withdrawal of aid.

The Georgian law is based on Russian legislation passed in 2012 that has been criticized for criminalizing civil society organizations that receive funding from abroad.

Most recently, the Russian government used the law to arrest American-Russian journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, who was accused of failing to register as a foreign agent because she is a journalist for the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe. Kurmasheva said her travel in Russia was for personal reasons.

The U.S. and Europe fear similar legislation in Georgia would silence free speech and eliminate democratic checks on institutions. 

“Members of the ruling party have been clear that the intent of the law is to silence critical voices and destroy Georgia’s vibrant civil society, which serves as a critical check on government in any democratic nation,” Miller said. 

The proposed law was introduced April 3 by the ruling-Georgian Dream party. It marked a new effort to push through legislation that failed the previous year in the face of mass protests. 

Lawmakers wrote to Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze on April 26 that the legislation could trigger U.S. sanctions, lead to individual visa bans and the withdrawal of American assistance.

“If this legislation is enacted, it could send a powerful message to the Georgian people that its government no longer reflects their wishes, is actively undermining its EU membership agenda, and refuses to uphold its constitution,” 14 senators wrote in the letter. It was led by the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and James E. Risch (R-Idaho), respectively.

“As a result, this legislation would cast Georgia’s strongest partners, the United States and European Union, as malign actors. Such a shift would require U.S. policy toward Georgia to change and reflect the new state of Georgia’s politics.”

Public pushback on the streets of Tbilisi against the bill reached a fever pitch Wednesday night, after the government advanced the bill in a second reading, with a third and final reading for passage expected May 17.

Thousands of protesters reportedly gathered in Tbilisi were met with water cannons, tear gas and stun grenades by security forces, with media reports indicating arrests and injuries among the protesters. Georgian opposition parties have called for protests to resume Thursday evening.

The protesters have garnered support from European leaders, who are warning the Georgian Dream political party backing the bill that implementing the Foreign Influence law would harm the country’s chances of joining the European Union (EU).

Critics of Georgian Dream, which was elected in 2020 parliamentary elections, say the party had reneged on promises to reform Georgia in line with EU standards and allow for its ascension to the bloc.

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the EU commission, warned Wednesday night that “Georgia is at a crossroads. It should stay the course on the road to Europe.”

“I am following the situation in Georgia with great concern and condemn the violence on the streets of Tbilisi. The Georgian people want a European future for their country.”

Georgia occupies a tenuous position between Russia and the West.

Russia invaded Georgia in 2008 and still occupies two territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The ruling Georgian Dream party is criticized as deepening ties with Russia at the expense of the public’s desire to join the EU.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Biden administration condemns Georgia for ‘Kremlin-inspired’ legislation”
  1. As an American, I am appalled by the Georgian government’s adoption of legislation inspired by the Kremlin. It is alarming to see a country veer away from democratic values and risk its Euro-Atlantic integration. The suppression of free speech and potential crackdown on civil society organizations must be vehemently opposed.

  2. As an advocate for freedom of speech and democracy, I strongly condemn Georgia for aligning itself with Kremlin-inspired legislation. The actions taken by the Georgian government not only go against the democratic values of the EU and NATO but also pose a threat to the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration. It is concerning to see such laws that could stifle free speech and undermine democratic principles being enforced. Georgia should reconsider its stance and uphold the rights of its citizens.

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