Georgian PM Slams US Criticism Of Draft Law That Sparked Mass Protests


(RFE/RL) — Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has accused the United States of making “false” statements over the controversial “foreign agent” law being pushed through parliament and protests that have seen several Georgians injured by security forces, saying Washington’s words are similar to previous statements that “encouraged” violence during other times of unrest in the Caucasus nation.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets in Georgia in recent days to protest against the so-called foreign agent law that this week advanced through parliament to a third and final reading expected on May 17.

The draft law is seen as mimicking legislation in Russia that has been used by Moscow to crack down hard on dissent and civil society.

Washington and Brussels have also been critical of the draft law, which sparked similar protests last year that forced the ruling Georgian Dream party to withdraw it, with the U.S. State Department saying the intent of the bill “is to silence critical voices and destroy Georgia’s vibrant civil society.”

“This legislation and Georgian Dream’s anti-Western rhetoric put Georgia on a precarious trajectory,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement on May 1.

Kobakhidze said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on May 3 that he had spoken to State Department policy adviser Derek Chollet over “false statements” made by U.S. officials about the transparency bill and street rallies, which he said “remind us of similar false statements made by the former U.S. Ambassador in 2020-2023.”

Kobakhidze was referring to last year’s tumult over the same legislation, as well as the 2020 conviction of an opposition politician who was arrested for organizing and taking part in weekslong rallies insisting Georgia’s electoral system unfairly favored the ruling Georgian Dream party and demanded it be changed to a proportional system from 2020.

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi said then that the case amounted to “political interference” and “the selective use of justice.”

Kobakhidze 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.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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