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"Kremlin-Inspired:" U.S. Slams Georgia’s Foreign Agent Bill

The United States on Thursday warned in the toughest criticism of a controversial plan to tighten restrictions on civil society in Georgia, saying that it had echoes of Russian authoritarianism and undermines the country’s relations with the West.

“We have seen similar kinds of legislation be used by the Kremlin – not just the Kremlin, but other repressive governments – to stigmatize and systematically repress civil society and media organizations.  We don’t think that this kind of legislation is in line with the stated goal of fostering transparency,” State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told TURAN’s Washington correspondent during daily briefing.

“We continue to remain deeply troubled by this draft law and its passage in the first reading, particularly the way that it targets and stigmatizes civil society organizations and media organizations,” Patel said.

He went on to add, “We think that they are cornerstones of any democratic system.  We are closely monitoring the situation, particularly closely monitoring the protests.  And we call on all parties to respect freedom and peaceful assembly, and exercise restraint and avoid any escalatory or violent actions and respect the rule of law.”

In the meantime, when pressed, Patel refrained from telegraphing any potential actions against the supporters of the bill in Georgia’s parliament. Early this week, the bill, introduced by the ruling Georgian Dream party, took another step toward becoming law by passing first reading in parliament amid protests on Tbilisi streets condemning it as “Russian”.

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