Major Brawl Erupts in Georgian Parliament as Members Exchange Blows Over ‘Foreign Agents’ Bill

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By Margaretd. Regina

Tensions are running high in the Parliament of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, as a massive brawl erupted during the ‘debate’ of a polemic new bill.

The confrontation consisted of multiple fistfights that broke out among lawmakers today (15) as a parliamentary committee was supposed to be debating a bill on “foreign agents”.

Critics say the proposed legislation is modeled on draconian legislation in neighboring Russia.

Reuters reported:

“Video from inside the parliament building in the capital Tbilisi showed a brief but violent brawl between lawmakers after the chairman of the chamber’s legal affairs committee appeared to strike the leader of the United National Movement opposition party, which opposes the bill.

The governing Georgian Dream bloc last month announced that it supported the legislation, which still needs to pass other approval stages before it can become law.

The law would require organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from overseas to register as “foreign agents” and submit to monitoring by the justice ministry, or else face hefty fines.”

The 2012 Russian law that opponents compare their legislation to is said to be used ‘to crack down on Russian civil society and independent media’.

Givi Mikanadze, ‘Georgian Dream’ lawmaker:

“Georgian society absolutely deserves to know which organisations are being financed, from which sources. We are talking about transparency and having an obligation (to the Georgian people).”

President Salome Zourabichvili will repertedly veto the bill, as she feels it endangers Georgia’s hopes of joining the EU and NATO.

Barrons reported:

“The scuffle came as dozens of Georgians rallied outside parliament against the proposed law, which they argue undermines Georgia’s bid for European Union membership.

Ahead of a rally planned for Monday evening, protesters could be seen unfurling a large European Union flag and shouting: “No to the Russian law!”

“Georgia’s society is strong enough not to allow the country to slide into Russian-styled authoritarianism,” Saba Gotua, an architect, said.

‘We will not let Georgian Dream waste Georgia’s historic chance to become an EU member’.”

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