Georgia Parliament Erupts in Violence as Lawmakers Clash Over ‘Foreign Agent’ Bill

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Georgia’s Parliament descended into chaos on Monday after the leader of the Georgian Dream Party’s parliamentary group was punched while discussing a controversial “foreign agent” law.

Mamuka Minadaradze (45), was punched by Aleko Elisashvili (46), an opposition MP, as he addressed the chamber.

Mdinaradze is the driving force behind this legislation can be seen falling over when several other MPs get involved in the melee. The footage shows legislators on both sides jumping up from their desks to trade punches. Later, protesters greeted Elisashvili outside the Parliament building with cheers.

The “foreign agent” bill has caused controversy in Georgia, and it is criticized as an import of “Putin’s style” from Russia. According to a draft that was submitted last week, media and non-commercial organizations should register as foreign agents if more than 20 percent of their budget comes from outside.

The measure is almost identical to one that was withdrawn by the ruling Georgian Dream Party a year earlier after massive street protests.

Georgian Dream has argued that the law is needed to counter what they call “pseudo-liberal values” and promote transparency. Georgian critics dubbed the bill the “Russian Law,” comparing it to the Kremlin’s efforts to crack down on dissidents.

The opponents of the law have also claimed that it would complicate Georgia’s goal to join the European Union. Last year, the EU granted the long-desired status of a candidate country.

Georgian Dream Party has stated that it wants Georgia to be a part of NATO and the EU, but it is seen by many as strengthening ties with Russia.

In the meantime, the EU has stated that the law on “foreign agents” is incompatible with its values.

Democracy is based on the principle of ensuring freedom of media and creating an environment that encourages civil society. Peter Stano said it was also vital for the EU Accession Process.

The brawl on Monday occurred as Georgian Premier Irakli Kobakhidze met with ambassadors of the EU, U.K., and U.S. to discuss legislation.

Girogi Mskhiladze, her representative in parliament, stated that President Salome Zourabichvili will veto any law passed by the Parliament. This veto may not last long. Zourabichvili’s term ends this year, and constitution changes will see the next president selected by an electoral council that includes all members.