How Georgia’s Foreign Influence Bill Can Be Seen As A Win For Russia | Explained

Georgia’s parliament on Tuesday overrode the president’s veto and enacted the controversial ‘Foreign Influence Bill’. The bill, which is said to have its roots in Russia, has caused tensions between Georgia and the West – particularly the United States and the European Union.

Georgia Overrides Presidential Veto to Enact Foreign Influence Bill on May 28 Photo: AP

Georgia’s parliament on Tuesday overrode the president’s veto and enacted the controversial ‘Foreign Influence Bill’. The bill, which is said to have its roots from a similar bill in Russia, also caused tensions between Georgia and the West – particularly the United States and the European Union.

Despite the mass protests across the capital city of Tbilisi, the ruling Georgian Dream Party pushed for the bill and did not stop until they succeeded.

Amid tensions caused by this bill in the former Soviet state, the Foreign Influence Bill, which has also been dubbed as the “Russian Law”, has been met with mass protests. Thousands of Georgians continue to march out in the streets to express their dissatisfaction with the ruling party and this Kremlin-like law.

From the approval of the first draft of the bill, the legislation showed various similarities to the Foreign Agent Bill passed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In Russia, this legislation was introduced in 2012 and since then has been used to monitor, crush and marginalise dissenting voices in Russia society.

Under this bill, anyone or organisation that receives support from outside Russia or has been influenced by foreign forces must register and declare themselves as “foreign agents” and once they register themselves, the "foreign agents" are subject to audits by the government.

Since its inception, the law has been criticized by international bodies and opposition in Russia, who claim it is being used to clamp down on free press, human rights and any voice against Putin's regime.

With the passing of this legislation, many critics and residents fear that not only has this bill harmed Georgia’s bid to join the EU but has also provided a win for Russia amid high geopolitical tensions in the region.

What Is Georgia’s Foreign Influence Bill?      

Officially called the bill "On Transparency of Foreign Influence,” this legislation would require any media organisation, non profit or NGO receiving 20 percent or more of the funding from outside Georgia and other countries to declare themselves as “an organisation working in the interests of a foreign power”.

Under this legislation, media, NGOs and other organisations “influence by foreign powers” would be under the scrutiny of the Ministry of Justice and can also be coerced into sharing sensitive information at the request of the government, or face a fine of upto25,000 Georgian lari (9,400 US Dollars).

This was the Georgian Dream Party’s second attempt to push the legislation. In 2023, due to nationwide protests, the bill was withdrawn, however, in 2024, the bill was passed and the new draft the term “agents of foreign influence” has been substituted with “organisations serving the interests of a foreign power.” 

A Regional Win For Russia?

After breaking off from the USSR, Georgia emerged as one of the most pro-Western (and at times anti-Russian) country in the region. However, over the past eight years, politics in Georgia have taken a more autocratic turn with the government working towards cracking down on any revolutions rising in the country.  

Apart from copy-pasting the foreign influence bill from Russia, the ruling party of Georgia also aims to introduce a package of bills curbing the LGBTQ movement, changing the electoral code before the October elections and much more. All of which are similar to Russia’s way of functioning.

As far as Georgia-Russia ties are concerned, with the passing of the foreign influence bill, the two countries, despite having no formal diplomatic relations, appear to be moving closer.

Russian diplomats have also stated that the ruling party showed “character and maturity” by overriding the presidential veto.

With the foreign agent-like bill, critics have stated that Russian influence in the region is growing, especially considering the country’s strategic location.

Not only does Georgia share the border with Southern Russia, it is also a part of the Caucasus Region, an oil and gas rich zone between the Black and Caspian Sea, where the interests of Russia, Iran and Turkey clash directly with those of the West, particularly the US.

Russia VS EU and NATO

Despite trying to mollify Russia, the Georgian government has also maintained its wish to join the EU and NATO in the recent years.

However, with the Ukraine war, Tbilisi has stated that it has to take a neutral stance towards Russia, just in case its invasion spreads outside Ukraine (something majority of NATO countries are already preparing for).

And as the Ukraine War rages on, Russia remains at odds with the European Union. Ties between the two took a turn for the worse after the EU expressed its steadfast support for Ukraine following Moscow’s invasion.

Before the war, Russia's served as the EU’s largest trading partner and had a significant role in Europe’s energy sector. However, with sanctions imposed on Moscow after February 24, 2022, relations have remained tense.


As far as the Georgia and the EU is concerned, Georgia was elevated to the “candidate status “ in 2023, bringing it one step closer to becoming a member.

Along with Georgia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine were also elevated to “candidates” to join the bloc.

However, with this foreign influence bill, the regional bloc has raised its concerns regarding the law and stated that the country appears at “crossroads and must choose the turn with Europe”. The United States had also raised similar concerns and stated that democracy in the country was “backsliding”.


As far as NATO and Russia are concerned, tensions have only increased with the expansion of the the blocs.  With the entry of Finland and Sweden in 2023, NATO’s expansion has been a matter of fixation for Vladimir Putin.

In April 2024, as NATO marked 75 years since its formation, Kremlin declared that the US-led bloc and Russia were in “direct confrontation” due to the bloc inching closer to its borders with its expansion.

Georgia, just like Ukraine, is yet to become an official member of the US-led bloc but has been promised of an eventual membership in the future. With this foreign agent bill acting as a sign of Russian influence, tensions in the region are bound to escalate.


What’s Next For Georgia?

Despite the nationwide backlash and protests, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze has justified the need for this bill and stated at multiple occasions that the legislation aims to “boost transparency” regarding foreign funding coming into the country.

After overriding the presidential veto on May 28, PM Kobakhidze stated that the bill will work towards establishing “peace and stability in the country” and also help in avoiding “radicalisation and constant attempts to stage revolutions”.

The Georgian prime minister also added that with this bill, the initiative to criticise authorities, challenge government policies will be reduced. The PM also claimed that certain civic groups tried to “organise a revolution” in 2020 and 2022 by “engaging in LGBT propaganda” and “discrediting the police, judiciary, and the Georgian Orthodox Church.” 


As per critics and opposition members, the foreign influence bill has been brought in as part of a bigger package which would include laws to restrict rights of the LGBTQ+ community - a move similar to Russia’s recent laws curbing LGBTQ movements across the country and labelling them as “anti-national”.

Critics have further added that future legislations will also work towards altering the tax code to make it easier for offshore capital to enter Georgia and ultimately changing the electoral code to increase the Georgian Dream party’s influence over the national poll body.

With its parliamentary elections due in October 2024 and with its EU bid in alleged jeopardy, Georgia is the most vulnerable it has been. As thousands of people continue to march the streets and call for a change in government, the Western blocs (EU and NATO) have an important stake - to bring Georgia in or let Moscow expand its orbit in the region, all of which must be done without the escalating the ongoing conflict in the region.