Parliament Speaker: foreign politicians joining “radical anti-Government rallies” against foreign influence law “unfriendly acts against Georgian people”

Papuashvili further stressed the Georgian Government had “long proved its commitment to European and Euro-Atlantic values and policies”. Photo: Parliament of Georgia, 16 May 2024 - 12:00, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Thursday denounced foreign politicians joining “radical anti-Government rallies” against the domestic law on transparency of foreign influence in the capital city of Tbilisi as “unfriendly acts against Georgian people”.

Papuashvili’s comments followed visiting foreign ministers from Latvia, Estonia, Iceland and Lithuania joining a protest rally against the law on Rustaveli Avenue on Wednesday.

In his social media message, Papuashvili noted the development was “not just an unfriendly act against Georgian people, but also a symptom that the Russian Government had imparted some of its worldview to its staunchest opponents, especially in the Baltics”.

Addressing a rally of exalted youth led by radical opposition parties against the Government, and calling them the ‘whole nation’ is something that you would expect from a Soviet or Russian propagandist, not a foreign minister of an EU member state. And helping to topple a democratically elected government just because you do not like their legislation is out of the Soviet handbook”, he said.

“Some in the governments of our Baltic partners have been carried away a bit too much by their own rhetoric. Imagining the world in monochrome brought them to the state where anyone who does not copy their rhetoric automatically becomes a foe; the foes should be dealt with by any means available; and diplomacy gets replaced with propaganda. Anyone familiar with Soviet and contemporary Russian history would swiftly recognise the pattern”, the lawmaker continued.

Papuashvili further stressed the Georgian Government had “long proved its commitment to European and Euro-Atlantic values and policies”.

“Now, with the ever-elusive prospect of NATO membership amidst the regional geopolitical turmoil, Georgia has to deal with dramatic foreign challenges mostly on its own. One of these challenges is unaccountable foreign money, which freely flows into Georgia’s political system, including the radical groups”, he claimed.

The new legislation on transparency of foreign influence is to deal with this challenge. The legislation has precedents in the West, is constitutional, proportional, and within the limits of democratic governance. Simply calling this law ‘Russian’ does not make it undemocratic, and, moreover, does not justify attacks on the Georgian Government”, the chief Georgian legislator said in reference to the branding of the law by its opponents.

“Some who are affected by this legislation protest it. Protests are often radical and violent. Foreign dignitaries joining these protests, in blatant disregard of Georgia’s sovereignty and diplomatic practice, in the name of ‘democracy and human rights’, is hypocrisy at best, and subversion at worst”, Papuashvili alleged.

He further added Georgia “needs friends and support, not hypocrisy and subversion”, adding “we have had enough of the latter from the North already”, in an apparent reference to Russia.