Fights Break Out in Georgia Parliament Over Bill

( – There’s an expectation that lawmakers will behave when they are working. It appears members of Georgia’s parliament didn’t get the memo.

On April 15, chaos erupted in Georgia’s parliament in the capital of Tbilisi. The problems started when the Georgian Dream party, which currently holds the majority, introduced a law that calls for non-commercial organizations and the media to register as being under the influence of foreign agents if more than 20% of their funding comes from abroad.

The bill went to the floor for a debate and opponents called it a “Russian law.” They drew comparisons to the draft legislation and a similar bill in Russia that the Kremlin has used to discredit the media and take control of the narrative in the country.

Viral footage of the debate showed Georgian Dream leader Mamuka Mdinaradze speaking about the bill when suddenly an opposition lawmaker, MP Aleko Elisashvili, rushed the podium and punched him in the face. Several other lawmakers also began fighting with one another.

In addition to concerns about censorship, the opposition party is concerned that the foreign agent bill would prevent Georgia from joining the European Union. In 2023, the EU finally granted the country candidate status. The status is an essential step on the road to full membership, something Georgian leaders are striving for. President Salome Zourabichvili has vowed to veto the bill if parliament passes it, but the veto might be short-lived. The nation changed its constitution to allow the majority of lawmakers to choose the president and her term ends this year.

On the same day as the brawl, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze met with EU, American, and British ambassadors to discuss the bill. The PM contended the legislation “complies with all basic legal principles” and only seeks to force the organizations to disclose their finances.

The ambassadors didn’t issue any statements about their discussions with Kobakhidze.

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