Ruling party to resubmit bill on transparency of foreign influence to Parliament

The official noted the bill was providing for a “single requirement that organisations receiving foreign funding publish their annual financial reports”. Photo: Georgian Dream Press Office, 03 Apr 2024 - 12:09, Tbilisi,Georgia

Mamuka Mdinaradze, the head of the ruling Georgian Dream party in the Parliament, on Wednesday said the parliamentary majority had decided to resubmit the bill on the transparency of foreign influence to the Parliament, after the controversial draft law was retracted last year following public protests.

Mdinaradze said the bill would be initiated in the Parliament with “exactly the same text” as last year, only replacing the term describing non-commercial legal entities and media outlets in the country that derive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad as ones “pursuing the interests of a foreign power”, instead of “agents of foreign influence”. 

“You all remember that last year, right after the initiation of the bill, we expressed readiness to replace the term ‘agent of foreign influence’ with different wording”, Mdinaradze said, adding other sections of the draft law would remain unchanged.

The official noted the bill was providing for a “single requirement that organisations receiving foreign funding publish their annual financial reports”.

The only financial sanctions are envisaged in cases of violation of the said requirement. This is the minimum standard of transparency and accountability to the public, that any organisation with even a formal claim to conscientiousness must meet. Therefore, the content of the bill does not provide even minimal grounds for criticism. The law will be passed in all three hearings by the end of the current session”, the lawmaker continued.

He further claimed the law would “protect Georgia from artificial attempts to cause unrest” in the country, “similar to those the country has had to deal with since 2020”, in an apparent reference to developments on the domestic political scene following that year's elections.

It should be noted that comparable laws are in force in the United States of America, Israel, and Australia, and last year, the discussion of comparable laws has begun and is underway in the European Union, Great Britain, France, Canada, Slovakia, and Ukraine, which further confirms the relevance of this issue in terms of the protection of democracy and sovereignty. It is the sovereign right and responsibility of the state to ensure transparency of information concerning foreign funding to the people and their democratically mandated Government", he noted. 

“The protection of sovereignty, peace, and stability is our primary responsibility to the Georgian state and the Georgian public”, Mdinaradze also said.

The Georgian Parliament last year formally retracted the draft law following the decision by the ruling Georgian Dream party to withdraw the bill, after Georgian-based non-governmental organisations, the United States Department of State, European Union officials and the United Nations Office in Georgia all spoke out in criticism of the bill.