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Helsinki Commission Senate leadership Statement on Reintroduction of Foreign Agent Bill in Georgia

Senate

118th Congress, Second Session

WASHINGTON, DC—In response to the Georgian government’s announcement that it intends in the coming days to reintroduce Russian-style “foreign agent” legislation, U.S. Helsinki Commission Co-Chairman Ben Cardin (Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee) and Senate Ranking Member Senator Roger Wicker (Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee) issued the following statement:

“This is a deliberate attack on Georgia’s fragile democracy, self-sabotage of its European candidacy, and a blatant rejection of the Georgian people’s overwhelming and hard won Euro-Atlantic choice. This bill is a facsimile of the Russian legislation that inspired it. It is no coincidence that its reintroduction comes amid a broader push for similar legislation in the region. It is appalling but unsurprising that the Georgian Dream would again go down this path despite Russia’s continuing occupation of 20% of the country’s territory.

“We call on the Georgian leadership to abandon this bill and return to its previous liberal democratic trajectory and the Euro-Atlantic choice of its people.”

On April 3, Georgia’s ruling Georgian Dream party announced the reintroduction of a draft law on foreign agents that had been proposed in early 2023 but was withdrawn in the face of large national protests and international outcry. The bill is a close reproduction of Russia’s foreign agent law and similar to other legislation that has been enacted and pushed among autocracies around the region. It would label internationally-supported civil society and media outlets as “agents of foreign influence,” and appears to specifically target U.S. and European-supported civil society groups. As Russia also claimed, Georgian Dream leaders falsely claim the bill is similar to U.S. and European foreign influence legal frameworks.

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