US ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan on Monday criticized the bill on the foreign influence proposed by former members of the ruling Georgian Dream as “similar to the Russian law that is aimed at stigmatizing civil society”.
During his presence at the National Bank headquarters in Tbilisi, the diplomat suggested the bill by the People’s Power, which envisages registration of non-commercial legal entities and media outlets as agents of foreign influence if they obtain more than 20 percent of their incomes from abroad, “seems to be in search of a problem”.
Degnan said every day, there was “a new reason why this legislation needs to be introduced”.
“First, it was transparency when there’s already plenty of transparency into how foreign assistance is supporting Georgians. The purpose of these laws is completely different from the law in the United States. These laws are aimed at blocking Georgians who are helping other Georgians. These are Georgians who are trying to address problems in their communities and provide services”, said the diplomat.
Degnan stressed Georgia had fought “hard” to build its democracy to protect its freedoms and those laws were expected to “undermine that progress that Georgia has spent so many years building”.
“That is why you hear concerns from the United Nations, from the European Union, from the United States, from many of Georgia’s long-standing friends, who’ve been working with Georgia for over 30 years, to help improve Georgia’s freedoms, protect Georgia’s freedoms, and build the institutions. So that is why people are very concerned. Georgia does not need this law”, the ambassador added.