Georgia axes 'foreign agents' bill after unrest
STORY: After two days of protests and violent unrest, the political party that controls parliament in the country of Georgia says it's withdrawn a controversial bill that opponents said would have lead it down a path toward authoritarianism.
Dubbed the "foreign agents" bill, opponents say it was inspired by a Russian law that's been used to crack down on dissent there for a decade, although its creators say it was modeled after an American law from the 1930s.
Graffiti on this wall of parliament says 1984, after the dystopian George Orwell book.
Despite the withdrawal, opposition groups say they plan to continue protesting anyway because they don't trust the majority party, called Georgian Dream.
Giga Lemonjava is executive secretary of an opposition party called Droa:
"Georgian Dream has lied to the Georgian public several times. We need Georgian Dream to put that Russian law on the parliamentary plenary session and cancel it officially.”
"The day-before-yesterday, they detained dozens of our friends illegally. So they should be released immediately from jail because they are peaceful protesters."
"Georgia should be a member of the European Union and NATO. This Russian law is against Georgia's European aspirations, so we are ready to continue the protests."
The proposed law would have required any person, media outlet, or civil society organization that gets more than 20% of its funding from outside the country to register itself as an "agent of foreign influence" or face fines.
Its creators say it's needed to root out "spies" and "foreign influence," and that it was modeled after the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the United States, which primarily regulates groups and lobbyists who work directly for foreign governments, or under the control of foreign governments.
But it's been denounced by the European Union and the U.S., which rejects the comparisons to the 1930s law.
The NGO Human Rights Watch says the Georgian bill would have required onerous inspections and reporting requirements, with prison for repeat offenses.