POLITICO: Georgia’s dream of the European Union is dashed as the “foreign agent” bill becomes law

The ruling Georgian Dream party said the rules were necessary to prevent influence from outside, and accused the NGOs of promoting “gay propaganda” and trying to organize a “revolution.” Critics at home fear it could be a prelude to a Russian-style crackdown on civil society ahead of general elections in October. Europe’s highest legal authority warned that the rules were similar to those used by Moscow to silence dissent and shut down NGOs.

Washington announced that it would impose a travel ban and other sanctions on politicians “complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia,” and the European Union announced that passing the bill would torpedo the South Caucasus country’s hopes of joining the bloc.

Brussels granted Georgia EU candidate status in December despite concerns about a backsliding on human rights issues and a failure to implement key reforms.

Growing anger over Russian-style legislation passed by the ruling Georgian Dream party has brought huge crowds to the streets of Tbilisi. | Gabriel Gavin/POLITICO

In response to the passage of the draft law, the bloc’s chief diplomat said: Josep Borrell said in a statement The European Union “deeply regrets” this step, warning that it may conflict with Georgia’s obligations under the terms of its status as a candidate. He added that “insufficient political attention” had been given to other key areas in need of reform, and that Brussels would now consider its response.

Speaking to Politico as voting began, Tina Bokochava, leader of the largest opposition party in parliament, the United National Movement, accused the government of “trying to deprive the Georgian people of their European future.”

“Georgia’s European ambitions can only be protected through regime change. Before the October elections, it is essential that opposition leaders band together to repeal this Kremlin-inspired law and return Georgia to the European path,” she said.

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