We, the citizens of Georgia, are categorically opposed to the bill on “agents of foreign influence” introduced in Parliament yesterday, which is supported by the Speaker of Parliament and other members of the majority. We believe that the attempt to adopt this Russian law is aimed not only against free civil society organizations and critical media, but also against the population of Georgia.
This law aims to ensure that children and women who are victims of violence remain vulnerable. It will do the same for persons with disabilities, minorities, scientists, workers and youth. It will prevent assistance from reaching socially vulnerable families, farmers, miners, illegally dismissed workers, displaced people, homeless people and other people fighting for their rights. It will silence the voices of people living in the highlands and other regions, who rely on local independent media to inform the public about their plight.
This draft law is clearly a response to the important work that civil society and independent media have done over the years – studying, uncovering and publicizing corruption, lawlessness, violence and more. After the adoption of a similar law in Russia, many organizations refused to implement it and were closed. Those who continued to function experienced increasing control, harassment and repression. Georgians do not want Russian laws; we have been fighting against this for decades.
The adoption of this bill will be an attack on Georgia’s core values – dignity, independence and civil solidarity. In addition, the adoption of the bill will seriously damage the process of the country’s integration with Europe, including hindering Georgia’s progress towards EU membership, which does not have a similar law in any of its member states. But above all, the implementation of this law will cause immeasurable harm to hundreds of thousands of citizens of Georgia.