On February 14 and 27, 2023, “People’s Power,” the group in the parliamentary majority, submitted two bills to the Parliament of Georgia: “On Transparency of Foreign Influence” and “On Registration of Foreign Agents”. According to the draft law, those non-governmental organizations and media outlets that received more than 20% of their funding from abroad should be registered as “agents of foreign influence”. The authors of the draft laws argued that the purpose of the legislation was to achieve transparency for non-governmental and media organizations.
Despite the vast criticism of local and international organizations, the Parliament began to discuss the bills on March 2, which was followed by a protest and physical confrontation. On March 7, on a suddenly changed agenda of the plenary session, the draft law “On transparency of foreign influence” was passed on the first reading, with 78 MPs supporting it. The decision was followed by large-scale demonstrations near the parliament building. Demonstrations on March 7 and 8 were dispersed by special forces using gas, water cannon and pepper spray. Dozens of injured were hospitalized. About 60 people were arrested by the police.
In parallel with the protest, which ignited on March 2, a number of anonymous Facebook pages and fake accounts became active on social media. Pro-governmental and anonymous Facebook pages, as well as anti-Western and pro-Kremlin actors, were involved in the campaign, discrediting non-governmental organizations and the media on the one hand and criticizing the people participating in the protest on the other. The monitoring carried out by “Myth Detector” identified 33 Facebook pages and 27 fake accounts involved in the discreditation and disinformation campaigns.
The following messages have been identified:
- Non-governmental organizations are grant-eaters and are non-transparent;
- NGOs are fighting against the Church/Orthodoxy;
- Non-governmental organizations impose homosexuality on the society;
- The demonstrations were violent;
- The purpose of the protest was to organize a Maidan and open a second front;
- The American law, which is adopted by other countries, is deliberately presented as Russian;
The report is available on this link: Governmental and Pro-Kremlin Actors in Defence of the “Foreign Agents Law” and Against the Protests
Author: Ani Kistauri
Data Analysis: Mariam Bitsadze, Sandro Gigauri