Georgian President Salomé Zourabichvili announced on Saturday May 18 that she had vetoed the controversial law on “foreign influence,” which sparked mass protests in this Caucasian country. “Today, I am vetoing (…) the law which is Russian in its essence and which contradicts our Constitution,” declared Ms. Zourabichvili, while the text adopted this week by Parliament is denounced by its detractors as aiming to divert Georgia from Europe and drag it towards Russia.

However, this is a highly symbolic veto from the pro-European president, in open conflict with the government, because the ruling party, Georgian Dream, at the origin of the law, claims to have enough votes in Parliament to override it. .

The text sparked mass protests that have lasted for more than a month in Georgia, with thousands of people – mostly young people – taking to the streets in protest. NATO, the European Commission and the UN have condemned this initiative by the Georgian government.

“Russian law”

The law requires any NGO or media outlet receiving more than 20 percent of its funding from abroad to register as an “organization pursuing the interests of a foreign power” and submit to administrative oversight. Critics have dubbed it “Russian law” because of its similarity to legislation passed in Russia to suppress opposition.

Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili proposed amendments to the bill, but warned against any “artificial” negotiations. The Prime Minister, Irakli Kobakhidze, for his part said he was ready to discuss possible modifications.

A former Soviet republic, Georgia has officially been a candidate for entry into the European Union since December 2023, and it also aspires to join NATO.