April 16, 2024

Georgia Parliament Throws Punches Over Putin-Style "Foreign Agent" Bill

Well, you don't see this too often.

Members of parliament in the country of Georgia descended into a literal fistfight over a controversial law regarding "foreign agents."

The leader of the ruling Georgian Dream party was punched in the face.

The video shows Georgia Dream party leader Mamuka Mdinaradze, 45, being attacked by opposition MP Aleko Eliasashvili, 46.

The "foreign agents" bill is very controversial in Georgia and has been criticized by many around the globe as a "Putin-style" import from the cold land of Russia.

In its current form, the bill would require media and non-commercial organizations to register as being under foreign influence if any more than 20% of their budget comes from abroad.

The measure is almost identical to a proposal that the controlling Georgian Dream party was forced to withdraw about a year ago because of large street protests.

That didn't last for long though, as less than a year later the Georgian Dream party is already back and insisting that the law is necessary to protect against what it calls "pseudo-liberal values" imposed by foreigners.

Opponents of the bill have disparagingly labeled it as the "Russian Law," comparing it to Vladimir Putin's efforts to crack down and prevent dissidents.

That same group is arguing that such a law would complicate Georgia's goal of joining the European Union, which finally issued the country "candidate status" last year.

The EU has already come right out and said that the "foreign agent" law is "incompatible with the block's values."

"Creating and maintaining an enabling environment for civil society organizations and ensuring media freedom is at the core of democracy. It is also crucial for the EU accession process," a spokesman for the EU's foreign-policy arm said last week.

The brawl on Monday happened as Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze held a meeting with ambassadors from the EU, the U.K., and the U.S., to discuss the legislation.

President Salome Zourabichvili has already said she would veto the law if it passed parliament, according to her representative Girogi Mskhiladze.

That may only be a small delay though, as Zourabichvili's term ends later this year and the country's next president will be named "by an electoral college that includes all members of parliament."

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