Threats against NGO leaders multiply as Georgia green lights ‘Russian law’ for final vote

A decisive vote on Tuesday could see the final adoption of a law, dubbed the “Russian law” by critics, that targets civil society organisations and independent media in Georgia that receive foreign funding. For ten days now, the pro-Russian government in power in Tbilisi has made no secret of its intention to use force to impose the law as a means to silence opponents.

“Enemy of the Church”, “enemy of the state”, “LGBT propagandist”, “foreign spy”… These are some slogans on posters pasted outside the home of Giorgi Oniani.

Oniani, deputy managing director in Georgia of Transparency International – a German-based NGO fighting government corruption in over 110 countries – was left feeling anxious but not surprised.

He said he was convinced that those who put up the posters acted with the complicity of the ruling authorities.

“They're the ones who put it up, who are intimidating us. They're doing everything they can to disrupt our work,” he said. “All this took place in a group of buildings that is supposed to be protected because the prime minister lives there. But we discovered that the surveillance cameras were switched off. I called the police in the early hours but they refused to come and register my complaint.”

These NGOs are now being targeted by the Georgian government.

Simonichvili said his organisation provides free legal aid “to people without financial resources whose rights have been violated by the state”.

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