Georgia’s Ruling Party Secures a Contentious Foreign-Agent Law

Georgia’s Parliament gave final approval on Tuesday to a contentious bill that has plunged the country into a political crisis and threatened to derail the pro-Western aspirations of many Georgians in favor of closer ties with Russia.

The law will require nongovernmental groups and media organizations that receive at least 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as organizations “pursuing the interests of a foreign power.” The country’s justice ministry will be given broad powers to monitor compliance. Violations could result in fines equivalent to more than $9,000.

The passage of the bill is likely to represent a pivotal moment for Georgia, which has been one of the most pro-Western states to emerge from the collapse of the Soviet Union. The bill has already unsteadied Georgia’s relationship with the United States and the European Union, and it could upset the fragile geopolitics of the Caucasus, a volatile region where the interests of Russia, Turkey, Iran and the West have long come into conflict.

The bill has also set off night after night of protests in the capital, Tbilisi, that have often descended into clashes with the police. Dozens of protesters have been beaten and arrested as the police used pepper spray, tear gas and fists to disperse them.

Lawmakers from the ruling Georgian Dream party on Tuesday voted to override a veto of the bill that was announced on May 18 by President Salome Zourabichvili. Ms. Zourabichvili has been among the most vocal opponents of the law, but her veto was largely symbolic, because the government easily had the votes in Parliament to pass it with a simple majority.

The new legislation is part of a broader package of bills promoted by Georgian Dream that includes restrictions against L.G.B.T.Q. groups, amendments to the tax code that will make it easier to bring offshore capital to Georgia and changes to the electoral code that would increase the ruling party’s control over the body that administers elections.

The bill is officially called “On Transparency of Foreign Influence,” but it has been reviled as the “Russian law” by protesters, who say it resembles legislation that the Kremlin has used to rein in its opponents. Critics also say that the legislation would undermine the country’s long-term objective of joining the European Union, which has expressed concerns about the bill.

The government backed down on a previous attempt to pass the law last year after facing enormous protests, but this time it was more determined to push it through Parliament. While there is no evidence that Russia is behind the law, critics say the government has become increasingly friendly with Moscow and is seeking to emulate its methods.

The government has said it wants Georgia to be in the European Union and NATO but that it has little choice but to take a more neutral stance on Russia to avoid being entangled should the war in Ukraine spread.

The ruling party has also insisted that the law is necessary to strengthen Georgia’s sovereignty against outside interference. Georgia emerged broken and impoverished after the Soviet collapse, and Western-funded nongovernmental organizations helped the state fulfill some of its basic functions in the early 1990s.

But over time the government began to see the NGOs as its adversaries. It has increasingly accused them of pushing social issues like L.G.B.T.Q. rights that it says run counter to Georgian values and of undermining the country’s sovereignty.

Last week, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, citing the bill, announced “a comprehensive review” of bilateral cooperation between Georgia and the United States and U.S. visa restrictions against Georgian individuals “responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia.”

In Moscow, Maria V. Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, characterized Mr. Blinken’s announcement as an example of America’s “cynical and unceremonious interference in the affairs of sovereign states.”

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