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Georgia won’t go down Ukraine’s path – prime minister

Tbilisi is right to protect its political system from foreign influence, Irakly Kobakhidze has said

The political force of former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili seeks to “Ukrainize” the country, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze claimed on Friday, adding that his government will not allow that to happen.

The cabinet leader of the former Soviet republic lashed out at the United National Movement for the role it has played in stirring public discontent in reaction to a law that requires Georgian NGOs and media outlets that receive foreign funding to declare this fact.

Kobakhidze claimed that the opposition political party was trying to instigate mass protests similar to those that toppled the Ukrainian government in 2014.

”I can assure representatives of the National Movement that the Ukrainian scenario will not take hold in Georgia, that the Ukrainization of Georgia will not happen under any circumstances. We shall put maximum effort into preventing that,” he told journalists, after meeting Georgian ambassadors and other Foreign Ministry officials in Berlin.

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FILE PHOTO: Security forces take measures as protesters gather to stage protest against 'transparency of foreign influence' bill during voting near Georgian Parliament building in Tbilisi, Georgia on May 14, 2024.
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Saakashvili, Georgia’s pro-Western former leader, came to power in 2003 on the back of mass protests. His party, however, lost the 2012 election. He fled his home country, where he faced criminal prosecution over his actions in office, and tried to build a new political career in post-coup Ukraine.

His short stint as the governor of Odessa Region lasted less than two years, after which he went into opposition, lost Ukrainian citizenship, and ultimately returned to Georgia in 2021. There he was arrested and put in jail; he now claims to be a victim of political persecution by the “pro-Russian” government in Tbilisi.

The ‘foreign agents’ law has put the Georgian government in the crosshairs of the US and its allies, who argue it is an attack on democracy and have threatened sanctions against officials and politicians supporting it. The ruling Georgian Dream party had to overcome a presidential veto before the bill could become law earlier this month.

Kobakhidze insisted that the Georgian law was reasonable and called the campaign against it “farcical,” citing a similar piece of legislation in Canada, which was passed by the Senate late on Wednesday. The federal bill known as C-70 is supposed to curb foreign influence on national politics in order to protect democracy in the country.

READ MORE: US behind two failed ‘color revolutions’ – Georgian PM

Senior Georgian officials and pro-government politicians had previously made negative remarks about Ukraine and how it serves as an example for Tbilisi how not to conduct foreign policy.

June 21, 2024 at 05:41PM

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