Georgian Maidan: An unwilling foreign agent's perspective
An exclusive Q&A with a Tbilisi-based NGO-milker
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Your correspondent reached out to an acquaintance who grudgingly works for an organization that receives generous grants from benevolent western states and charitable foundations.
“Khvicha” kindly agreed to give us a candid assessment of the situation here in Cringey Casablanca. (Our source’s identity is safe because 1/3 of Tbilisi is on an NGO payroll. Everyone else is either a Russian IT specialist or a scooter driver who delivers food to aforementioned computer nerds.)
Edward: Can you briefly explain Georgia’s (withdrawn) “foreign influence” law? Also, people on Twitter are desperate to know if it is modeled after American legislation (FARA) or Russia’s own foreign agent law.
Khvicha: The “Law on Transparency of Foreign Influence”, as it was renamed after the first draft “On Foreign Agents” provoked immediate condemnation, would have required NGOs with more than 20% foreign financing to “register in a register” as a foreign agent, as it translates from Georgian and Russian. Since the NGO landscape is pretty much entirely non-Georgian, this would have meant every NGO, “alternative” media (in reality the mainstream, of course), and whatever else.
There's no useful distinction between FARA and the Russian law apart from the reason for FARA in the first place, which was “Nazi and Communist” influence. Now pretty much every American politician is a foreign agent for various other nations, so it doesn't even matter. The Russian law obviously became a slippery slope, intentionally, to clamp down on foreign/alternative media in Russia, and it's totally fair to say Georgian Dream was trying to go that way, though obviously not as extreme, inasmuch as it wants to cling to the European Fantasy.
Edward: Under this law the organization you work for would likely have to register as an agent of foreign influence. Do you feel personally attacked and persecuted?