Police Special Forces block the Parliament area while demonstrators protest against the approval of the 'Foreign Agent Bill' on May 14, 2024 in Tbilisi, Georgia
© Nicolo Vincenzo Malvestuto / Getty ImagesPolice Special Forces block the Parliament area while demonstrators protest against the approval of the 'Foreign Agent Bill' on May 14, 2024 in Tbilisi, Georgia
Irakli Kobakhidze says his country needs protection from external forces that want to launch a 'Georgian Maidan'

Georgia needs its recently passed 'foreign agents law' to curb external influence and avoid repeating the fate of Ukraine, which the West has turned into a battle front against Russia, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze said on Wednesday.

The divisive legislation, entitled the 'Transparency of Foreign Influence Act', would require NGOs, media outlets, and individuals receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as entities "promoting the interests of a foreign power" and disclose their donors. The bill sparked weeks of protests in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, with critics arguing that it could be used to crack down on the opposition.

Kobakhidze likened the current state of affairs in Georgia to "muddy water," where foreign influence flows unhindered and where those who wish to affect the country's governance can easily "catch fish" in the form of opponents to state policies and unite them to form revolutionary movements. Without the law, he says, there is a risk the country could turn into yet another Western proxy, much like what happened in Ukraine prior to the Maidan coup in Kiev in 2014.

"We want transparency... we don't want to leave muddy water in this country, because a 'Georgian Maidan' could lead our country to very serious consequences, to its 'Ukrainization'. We cannot agree with this," Kobakhidze stated on Georgian Channel 1.
Some people want muddy water here; we don't want it. Some people want Maidan here; we don't want Maidan. Some people want a second front [against Russia]. We don't want a second front.
The prime minister stressed that the new law would help ensure that foreign influence is regulated and kept in check, and "the transparency of NGOs is one of the main levers that will allow us to do this."

The controversial bill was passed earlier this month by the parliament of the country, which is an applicant to both the EU and US-led NATO. Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili has vetoed the legislation, but parliament is likely to override her decision, as the majority belongs to the bill's proponents, the Georgian Dream party.

The legislation has been widely criticized by Western officials. At a congressional hearing on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed to take action against Georgia if the bill becomes law. The Council of Europe's Venice Commission on Tuesday "strongly recommended" that Tbilisi abandon the bill, which allegedly "does not meet the European requirements of democratic law-making." The commission argued that making the work of entities that receive funds from abroad transparent "has the objective effect of risking [their] stigmatizing, silencing and eventually elimination."

Responding to this accusation, Kobakhidze said it is "absurd" to call transparency a bad thing.