The Georgian Parliament. Photo: press service http://www.parliament.ge/en/saparlamento-saqmianoba/plenaruli-sxdomebi/plenaruli-sxdomebi_news/the-plenary-session-of-the-parliament8.page

10 May 2024, 22:27

Law of Georgia "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" (bill with an explanatory note)

The Georgian ruling party, having a majority in the parliament, has approved the bill "On Transparency of Foreign Influence" in the first and second readings. The "Georgian Dream" Party tried to pass a similar document, a bill on foreign agents, back in February 2023, but then it was forced to abandon it under public pressure. The second attempt to pass the controversial law under a new name has also caused mass protests, but the country's political leadership intends to approve the document in the third and final reading before May 17. The "Caucasian Knot" is publishing below the text of the bill as adopted in the second reading.

Translation based on the text of the bill posted on the website of the Georgian Parliament was made by Ekaterina Kokoeva for the "Caucasian Knot"

Law of Georgia "On Transparency of Foreign Influence"

Article 1. Purpose and Scope of the Law

In order to ensure the transparency of foreign influence, this Law regulates the issue of registration of an entity as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, and other issues related to the transparency of the activities of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force.

This Law does not limit any activities of an entity registered on the basis of this Law as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force.

Article 2. Organization Pursuing Foreign Force's Interests

For the purposes of this Law, the organizations pursuing the interests of foreign force are as follows:

  1. A non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entity that is not established by an administrative body, which is not the National Sports Federation of Georgia provided for by the Law of Georgia "On Sports", or a blood institution provided for by the Law of Georgia "On the Quality and Safety of Human Blood and Its Components", and whose source of more than 20 percent of its total income during a calendar year is a foreign force;
  2. A broadcaster provided for by the Law of Georgia "On Broadcasting", the source of more than 20 percent of the total non-commercial income of which during a calendar year is a foreign force;
  3. A legal entity that, alone or jointly with another entity owns the print media operating in Georgia and whose source of more than 20 percent of its total non-commercial income during a calendar year is a foreign force; and
  4. A legal entity that, alone or jointly with another entity (person), owns or (and) uses an Internet domain or (and) Internet hosting intended for the Internet means distributing mass information in the state language of Georgia, and a source of more than 20 percent of total non-commercial income of which during the calendar year is a foreign force.

For the purposes of this Article, the "income" means a sum of money and other material benefit that has property value (any movable or immovable thing). The calculation of the value of income not in the form of a monetary amount for the purposes of this Article is made at its market price.

For the purposes of point a) of this Article, it is considered that the relevant entity provided for by the same point has received income if a sum of money was transferred to the specified entity or if it has become the owner or user of another material benefit that has property value (any movable or immovable thing).

For the purposes of point a) of this Article, the source of income received by the relevant entity provided for in the same point shall be deemed to be a foreign force:

  1. In case of direct or indirect receipt by the specified entity of income from a foreign force;
  2. In case of direct or indirect receipt by the specified entity of income from a legal entity that has directly or indirectly received income from a foreign force; and
  3. If the source of the specified income is not identified.

Article 3. Foreign Force

For the purposes of this Law, a foreign force is as follows:

  1. A subject that makes up the system of power of a foreign state;
  2. An individual who is not a citizen of Georgia;
  3. A legal entity not established on the basis of the legislation of Georgia; and
  4. An organizational entity (including a foundation, association, corporation, union, or other organization) or other association of persons established on the basis of a foreign law or (and) an international law.

Article 4. Registration of Subject as Organization Pursuing Foreign Force's Interests

A subject that meets the criteria of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, established by Article 2 of this Law, is obliged, during January of the calendar year following the year in which it satisfies these criteria, to apply in writing (in material form) through a legal entity of public law – the House of Justice – to the legal entity of public law, operating under the authority of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, – the National Public Registry Agency (hereinafter referred to as the Agency) with an Application for registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force. In this case, the Agency is obliged, within two working days, to ensure that the specified entity has access to the appropriate web page so that the entity can fill out an Application electronically, in compliance with the form established by the Minister of Justice of Georgia, for registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force (hereinafter referred to as the Application), and submit it to the Agency.

Within 10 working days after the subject accesses the appropriate web page provided for in paragraph one of this Article, the subject is obliged to fill out the Application electronically in accordance with the form established by the Minister of Justice of Georgia and submit it to the Agency.

The author of the Application is obliged to reflect therein, which is also the financial declaration of the author of the Application, the following information (if such information is available):

  1. Identification data of the author of the Application;
  2. The address of the location of the author of the Application;
  3. The web page address of the author of the Application;
  4. The information about the source, amount and expediency of the amount of money and other material benefits received by the author of the Application during the previous calendar year;
  5. The information about the amount and expediency of any sum of money spent by the author of the Application during the previous calendar year; and
  6. The date of filling out the Application.

Within 30 working days after submitting the Application, the Agency is obliged to investigate and study the Application for which the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia has the right to obtain the necessary information, including the personal data, in accordance with the law. If the author of the Application meets the criteria of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, established by Article 2 of this Law, and the Application is filled out correctly and in full, the Agency is obliged, within 30 working days after submitting the Application to it, to register the author of the Application as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, and register it in the Register of Organizations Pursuing the Interests of Foreign Forces. If the Application is filled out incorrectly or (and) incompletely, the Agency defines for the author of the Application a period of 10 working days to eliminate the gaps. The author of the Application is obliged to eliminate the gaps within the specified period. The Agency is obliged, within five working days after the expiration of this period, to register the author of the Application as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force and register it in the Register of Organizations Pursuing the Interests of Foreign Forces, if the author of the Application meets the criteria of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force established by Article 2 of this Law.

There is no fee for registering an entity as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force and for placing it in the Register of Organizations Pursuing the Interests of Foreign Forces.

The rules for registering a subject as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force and entering it into the Register of Organizations Pursuing the Interests of Foreign Forces are set forth by the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.

Article 5. Ensuring Publicity of the Application, other Relevant Documents and the Register of Organizations Pursuing the Interests of Foreign Forces

The application and statement provided for in paragraph one of Article 4 of this Law are public. The Agency is obliged, immediately after registering an entity as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, to ensure that the Application submitted by this entity to the Agency, the Application provided for in paragraph one of Article 4 of this Law is posted on the appropriate web page and, if available, also to the current charter of the specified entity, its other constituent documents and the latest extract about this entity from the Public Register.

Information entered into the Register of Organizations Promoting the Interests of Foreign Forces is public. The Agency is obliged to ensure that it is posted on the appropriate web page and is publicly accessible.

Article 6. Annual Financial Declaration

  1. A subject registered as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force must, in January of each year following the year of registration of the entity as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, fill out electronically in compliance with the form established by the Minister of Justice of Georgia and submit to the Agency a financial declaration in which the subject must correctly and fully reflect the information provided for in paragraph 3 of Article 4 of this Law (if such information is available) as of the year preceding the year of its submission to the Agency. The Agency is obliged, within 30 working days after the submission of the said financial declaration, to investigate and study this financial declaration, for which purpose the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia has the right to receive the necessary information, including the personal data, in accordance with the law. If the specified financial declaration is filled out incorrectly or (and) incompletely, the Agency defines for the entity that has submitted it, registered as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, a period of 10 working days to eliminate the gaps. The specified entity is obliged to eliminate the gaps within this period.

The financial declaration provided for in paragraph one of this Article and the information reflected therein are public. The Agency shall promptly ensure that said financial declaration is posted in an appropriate web page and is publicly accessible.

The procedure for submitting the financial declaration provided for in paragraph one of this Article, as well as the form of the said financial declaration, is established by the Minister of Justice of Georgia.

Article 7. Cancellation of Registration of Subject Registered as Organization Pursuing the Interests of a Foreign Force

A subject registered as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, which, according to the data (under the circumstances) for the previous calendar year, no longer meets the criteria of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, established by Article 2 of this Law, has the right, when submitting to the Agency a financial declaration provided for in Article 6 of this Law, to submit a justified written application (in material form) to the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and demand the cancellation of its registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force. In this case, the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, based on proper research and study of the issue, makes an appropriate decision within 30 working days. For this purpose, the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia has the right to receive the necessary information, including the personal data, in accordance with the law.

The Agency, in the event of a decision to cancel the registration of an entity as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, is obliged to immediately exclude this entity from the Register of Organizations Pursuing the Interests of Foreign Forces and remove from the relevant web page the information and documents in connection with the specified entity, earlier published in accordance with this Law.

The decision provided for in paragraph 2 of this Article is public and published on the corresponding web page.

The procedure for cancelling the registration of an entity registered as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force is established by the Minister of Justice of Georgia.

Article 8. Monitoring

In order to identify an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, or to verify the fulfilment of any of the requirements of this Law, the Ministry of Justice of Georgia is authorized at any time to carry out proper research and study of the issue – monitoring (hereinafter referred to as Monitoring).

The grounds for starting Monitoring are as follows:

  1. The decision of the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia; and
  2. A written application submitted to the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, which contains appropriate information related to a specific organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force.

For the purpose of Monitoring, the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia has the right to receive the necessary information, including the personal data, in accordance with the law.

The Monitoring of the same subject is permitted only once every six months.

If, as a result of Monitoring, it is revealed that the entity satisfies the criteria of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, established by Article 2 of this Law, but it has evaded registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, the Agency, based on an application from the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, shall register the said entity as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, which does not relieve this subject from the responsibility provided for in paragraph one of Article 9 of this Law. In this case, the specified entity is obliged to submit an Application to the Agency within 10 working days in compliance with the requirements of this Law.

The Monitoring procedure is established by the Minister of Justice of Georgia.

Article 9. Liability

An evasion of registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, or failure to submit a financial declaration provided for in Article 6 of this Law within the period established by the same article, –

entails a fine of GEL 25,000.

A failure to comply with the requirement of paragraph 2 of Article 4 of this Law, a failure to fulfil the obligation to eliminate the gap provided for by paragraph 4 of Article 4, or paragraph one of Article 6 of the same Law, or a failure to fulfil the obligation to submit an application defined by paragraph 5 of Article 8 of this Law, –

entails a fine of GEL 10,000.

A commitment by a person/subject who was earlier subject to an administrative penalty for committing an administrative offense provided for in paragraph 2 of this Article or this paragraph, of the act provided for in paragraph 2 of this Article, after the expiration of a month from the date of imposition of the corresponding administrative penalty –

entails a fine of GEL 20,000.

A protocol on an administrative offense provided for by this article shall be drawn up by the relevant authorized person of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia. When the specified administrative offense is committed, legal proceedings are carried out in accordance with the Code of Georgia on Administrative Offenses and other relevant legislative acts of Georgia.

The imposition of the liability provided for in this Article does not relieve the relevant entities from fulfilling the requirements of this Law.

A person (entity) who has committed the relevant administrative offense may be held liable under this Article only for six years after the commission of the said administrative offense.

Article 10. Transitional Provisions

Within 60 days after the entry into force of this Article:

  1. The relevant bodies/officials shall adopt/issue the by-laws necessary for the implementation of this Law, and ensure the compliance of the relevant by-laws with the same Law; and
  2. The Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the Agency shall carry out preliminary logistical and other measures necessary for the implementation of this Law.

The subject provided for in paragraph one of Article 2 of this Law, which, according to the data (circumstances) for 2023, meets the criteria of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force established by the same article, is obliged, within a month after the entry into force of this paragraph, in writing (in material form) apply through a legal entity of public law – the House of Justice – to the Agency with an Application for registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, after which the procedures established by Article 4 of this Law are carried out.

Article 11. Entry of the Law into Force

This Law, with the exception of Articles 1-9 and paragraph 2 of Article 10 of this Law, shall come into force upon publication thereof.

Articles 1-9 and paragraph 2 of Article 10 of this Law shall come into force on the 60th day after the publication thereof.

President of Georgia Salome Zurabishvili

Explanatory Note to Draft Law of Georgia "On Transparency of Foreign Influence"

1. a) General information about the bill:

a.a) Reason for the adoption of the bill:

a.a.a) The problem the solution of which is the purpose of the bill:

The aim of the bill is to ensure transparency of foreign influences. Based thereon, it is necessary to adopt a legislative act that defines the concept of an organization that promotes the interests of a foreign force and regulates the registration of relevant entities as organizations that promote the interests of a foreign force and other issues related to the transparency of their activities. At the same time, it is important that this legislative act serves only the purpose of information and does not restrict entities registered as organizations pursuing the interests of a foreign force in carrying out their normal activities.

It should be noted that similar legislation and practices exist in countries such as the USA, Australia, Israel; in particular, the United States has the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); in 2018, Australia, modelled on the US law, adopted the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act (FITSA); in 2016, the Israeli Knesset made a similar change to the Obligation to Identify Entities Supported by Foreign Political Parties Law of 2011.

Thus, the presented bill clarifies the concept of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, and in order to ensure transparency of foreign influence, regulates the issue of registration of an entity as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, and other issues related to the transparency of the activities of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force.

a.a.b) The need to adopt a law to solve the existing problem:

The issue specified in subpoint "a.a.a", based on its purpose and essence, requires a legislative change.

a.b) Expected results from adopting the bill:

As a result of the adoption of the bill, the issue specified in subpoint "a.a.a" will be resolved.

a.c) The main essence of the bill:

The bill mainly regulates the following issues:

  • The concepts of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, and of a foreign force;
  • The issue of registering a subject as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force;
  • The issue of ensuring the publicity of the Application for registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, other relevant documents and the Register of Organizations Pursuing the Interests of Foreign Forces;
  • The issue of submitting an annual financial declaration by an entity registered as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force;
  • The issue of cancelling the registration of an entity registered as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force;
  • The issue of monitoring in order to identify an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, or verify compliance with the requirements specified by the bill; and
  • The issue of imposing administrative liability for evading registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, or for failure to comply with the relevant requirements defined by the bill.

a.d) The connection of the bill with the government programme and action plan in the relevant area, if any (in the case of a bill initiated by the Government of Georgia):

The bill was not initiated by the Government of Georgia.

a.e) The principle of choosing the date of entry into force of the bill, and in the case of applying retroactive force to the law – the appropriate justification in connection with the following:

The main part of the bill comes into force on the 60th day after publication, since, based on the content of the provisions of the bill, a certain preparatory period is necessary.

Paragraph one of Article 10 and Article 11 of the bill are put into effect upon publication, since, based on the purpose and content thereof, they do not require the establishment of a later date for enforcement.

According to the bill, the appropriate entity, which, according to the data (under the circumstances) for 2023, satisfies the criteria established by the bill for an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, is obliged, within the period established by the bill, through the legal entity of public law – the House of Justice – to submit a written Application (in material form) to the legal entity of public law – the National Public Registry Agency – and ask for registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, after which the appropriate procedures established by the bill are carried out. The existence of this norm is necessary, since in its absence the obligation to register as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force would not apply to entities that, according to the data (under the circumstances) for 2023, meet the criteria of an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force established by the bill.

a.f) The reasons for considering the bill in the accelerated manner and the corresponding justification (if the initiator requests consideration of the bill in the accelerated manner):

There is no requirement for the bill to be considered and adopted in the accelerated manner.

b) Assessment of the financial impact of the bill in the medium term (the enforcement year of the bill and the next three years):

b.a) Source of funding the necessary expenses in connection with the adoption of the bill

The adoption of the bill will not entail the allocation of additional expenses from the state budget of Georgia. Based on the bill, the expenses will be covered by the allocations provided by the state budget of Georgia for the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, and the legal entity of public law operating under the management of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia – the National Public Registry Agency.

b.b) The impact of the bill on the revenue side of the state budget, the republican budget of the autonomous republic or (and) the municipality budget:

The bill provides for imposing a fine on an offender for evading registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, or for failure to comply with the relevant requirements defined by the bill. The size of these fines will depend on the number of instances of these offenses being committed.

b.c) The impact of the bill on the expenditure side of the state budget, the republican budget of the autonomous republic or (and) the municipality budget:

The amount of expenses of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the legal entity of public law operating under the management of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia – the National Public Registry Agency, related to the implementation of the bill, will depend on the number of facts of proceedings in the relevant cases, and the expenses will be covered from the allocations provided for by the state budget of Georgia for the Ministry of Justice of Georgia and the National Public Registry Agency.

b.d) New financial obligations of the state, indicating direct financial obligations (internal or external obligations) to be assumed by the state or an agency within the system thereof under the influence of the bill:

The bill does not provide for the state to assume any new financial obligations.

b.e) The expected financial consequences as a result of the adoption of the bill for persons subject to the bill, indicating the nature and direction of the impact on individuals and legal entities that may be directly influenced by the actions defined by the bill:

The bill addresses the issue of imposing a fine on an offender for evading registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, or for failure to comply with the relevant requirements specified in the bill. The size of these fines will depend on the number of instances of these offenses being committed.

b.f) The amount of the tax, fee or other type of payment (cash contribution) established by the bill into the relevant budget and the principle for defining the amount:

The bill addresses the issue of imposing a fine on an offender for evading registration as an organization pursuing the interests of a foreign force, or for failure to comply with the relevant requirements specified in the bill. When defining the amount of these fines, the issue of whether they have preventive effect in relation to the commission of relevant administrative offenses will be taken into account.

b1) Assessment of the impact of the bill on the legal status of the child:

The bill has no affect on the legal status of the child.

b2) Assessment of the expected impact of the bill on the situation with gender equality:

The bill has no expected impact on the gender equality.

c) The bill in relation to international legal standards:

c.a) The bill in relation to EU law:

The bill does not contradict to the EU law.

c.b) The bill in relation to the obligations associated with the Georgia's membership in international organizations:

The bill does not contradict the obligations associated with the Georgia's membership in international organizations.

c.c) The draft law in relation to bilateral and multilateral treaties and agreements of Georgia, as well as in the case of a treaty/agreement with which the preparation of a draft law is related – its relevant article or (and) part:

The bill does not contradict any bilateral and multilateral treaties and agreements of Georgia. The preparation of a bill is not related to such a treaty/agreement.

c.d) If any, a legal act of the European Union, the obligation to rapprochement with which arises from the "Association Agreement between Georgia, on the one hand, and the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their member states, on the other":

There is no such act.

d) Consultations obtained during drafting the bill:

d.a) State, non-state or (and) international organizations/institutions, experts, working groups that took part in drafting the bill, if any:

Any of the kind is absent.

d.b) Assessment of the organization/institution, working group or an expert on the bill that took part in drafting the bill, if any:

Any of the kind is absent.

d.c) Experience of other countries in the implementation of laws similar to the draft law; review of the experience that served as an example in the preparation of the bill, in the case of preparation of such a review:

The legal regulations and practices similar to the legal regulation of the issue presented in the bill exist in countries such as, for example, the USA, Australia and Israel; in particular, the US has the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA); in 2018, Australia, modelled on the US law, adopted the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act (FITSA); In 2016, the Israeli Knesset made a similar change to the Law on the Obligation to Identify Entities Supported by Foreign Political Parties of 2011.

e) Author of the bill:

The parliamentary faction "Georgian Dream" (kartuli otsneba).

f) Initiator of the bill:

The parliamentary faction "Georgian Dream" (kartuli otsneba).

1. https://www.justice.gov/nsd-fara/fara-index-and-act 
2. https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2018A00063 
3. https://www.nevo.co.il/law_html/law01/500_452.htm
4. https://m.knesset.gov.il/en/news/pressreleases/pages/pr12164_pg.aspx
5. https://main.knesset.gov.il/Activity/Legislation/Laws/Pages/LawPrimary.aspx?t=lawlaws&st=lawlaws&lawitemid=2000650

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