Georgia’s “foreign agents” Law Sparks a Brawl in Parliament Amid Public Demonstrations

On April 15 2024, a physical altercation erupted in the Georgian Parliament over a proposed “foreign agents” bill, which mandates non-commercial entities receiving over 20% foreign funding to register as “foreign agents”, that is, representing foreign interests.

This incident, broadcast live on the Parliament’s website, featured opposition MP Aleko Elisashvili punching a member from the ruling Georgian Dream party.

In March 2023, Georgian authorities had already passed a “foreign agents” bill, before quickly withdrawing it due to severe public protests. Its reintroduction in April 2024 by the ruling Georgian Dream party was carried out under a slightly different name.

However, with unchanged content, it has reignited public demonstrations and criticism both domestically and internationally. The bill, resembling controversial Russian legislation, has been criticized for potentially stifling dissent and undermining transparency.

Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has defended the bill by emphasizing its role in national security and transparency, while proposing a public discussion with U.S. and EU ambassadors to address criticisms and clarify its objectives.

The legislative process is moving forward amid growing domestic unrest as Georgia approaches national elections in October and faces critical international scrutiny, potentially putting its EU candidacy and further integration into the EU at risk.