Georgian PM criticizes US comments on draft foreign agent law, dismissing them as false

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze rejected the criticism of a draft “foreign agents” law on Friday, saying Washington’s statements on the issue were incorrect and reminiscent of earlier interference which had fuelled violence. The draft legislation, which is progressing through the Georgian parliament, would require organisations receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as agents of foreign influence, a requirement opponents attack as authoritarian and Kremlin-inspired. Protesters have taken to the streets of Tbilisi for weeks to show their opposition to the law. The European Union and the United States have urged Tbilisi to drop the legislation or risk harming its chances of European Union membership and a broader Euro-Atlantic future. The standoff is seen as part of a wider struggle that could determine whether Georgia, a country of 3.7 million people that has experienced war and revolution since the fall of the Soviet Union, moves closer to Europe or back under Moscow’s influence. “I explained to (senior U.S. diplomat Derek) Chollet that incorrect statements made by the officials of the U.S. State Department about the law and street rallies remind us of similar incorrect statements made by the former U.S. Ambassador in 2020-2023,” Kobakhidze said in a statement on Friday. He said the previous U.S. statements had encouraged violence from what he called foreign-funded actors and had supported “revolutionary processes” which he said had been unsuccessful. “I clarified to Mr. Chollet that it requires a special effort to restart the relations (between Georgia and the United States) against this background, which is impossible without a fair and honest approach.” Bidzina Ivanishvili, the billionaire founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party and a former prime minister, has said he will fight for what he called “the full restoration of the sovereignty of Georgia”, and has suggested that the West is trying to meddle and drag his country into conflict.