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Concern and disapproval – the bill to strip opposition parties of state funding passed the first hearing, the outcry is mounting

By Veronika Malinboym
Thursday, December 24
Yesterday, the Georgian Parliament passed a bill to strip opposition parties of the state funding, should at least half of their MPs refuse to claim the seats won as a result of the October 2020 Parliamentary Elections. Moreover, should the opposition parties fail to comply, they will also be denied the free media time and the consequent election registration.

The US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has already expressed her concerns about the nature of the proposed bill. In an exclusive interview to Formula TV Channel, Degnan stated that the bill will be revised before it receives final approval, however, she would not want it to contain any conditions under which the opposition bloc will be denied access to the local media. The ambassador added that Georgia needs a strong, and well-developed opposition, as well as an accountable and responsible ruling party.

Mrs. Degnan has also expressed her sincere hope that the political crisis that the country is currently faced with will be resolved soon, and that both sides will be able to put national interests above the interests of their respective parties.

The European People’s Party has also referred to the new bill as worrisome and urged the government to commit to the proclaimed European values and strive for healthier Democracy. EPP has also called for constructive dialogue, as opposed to the restriction of the democratic rights of the country’s opposition bloc.

According to the MP of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Anri Okahanshvili, should the resignation of the opposition parties be officially approved by the Parliament, they will no longer be eligible for the state funding. He added that each vote that the opposition party candidates received equals approximately 15 GEL. Okhanashvili stressed that the MPs then receive to do their job and serve the public – in case they refuse their seat, he said, there will be no reason for them to receive state money.

As of today, six out of eight opposition parties have already filed a request for the status of their MPs to be suspended. Nine out of fourteen parties who won the seats have already filed for the state funding, and a member of one opposition party with a reputation of being pro-Russian, Alliance of Patriots, Avtandil Enukidze, has expressed his readiness to enter the Parliament. During his interview with the Rustavi 2 TV Channel, Enukidze said that he is completely loyal to the Alliance of Patriots, but he does not approve of the course the party has recently taken and has no plans of refusing his mandate.