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Kristine Aghalaryan

Anonymous Threats: Georgian Journalist Targeted for Opposing “Foreign Agent” Bill

Investigative reporter Nino Zuriashvili, co-founder of Studio Monitor, an independent production company in Tbilisi, Georgia, tells Hetq she’s been receiving threats and insults from unknown persons for a week now.

The journalist is convinced she’s being targeted for her vocal opposition to a divisive "foreign agent" bill that has ignited weeks of mass street protests in the Georgian capital.

The bill, which passed its third and final reading in the Georgian parliament on Tuesday, requires NGOs and independent media that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign donors to register as organizations "bearing the interests of a foreign power".

Zuriashvili tells Hetq that everything started a few days ago, with a phone call from an unknown person who cursed her and the entire Studio Monitor staff.

"I asked why you are cursing me? The unknown person replied it was because I described the bill as a "Russian law". The person continued to call me, but I stopped answering the phone," says Zuriashvili.

On May 9, posters with Nino's photo with the inscription "spy" and the words "there is no place for spies in Georgia" and "sell-out spies" were posted at the entrance of the Studio Monitor offices.

Journalists removed those posters.

On May 10, the same posters with the same inscriptions appeared at Nino's place of residence, at the entrance of the house. Unknown persons also damaged Nino’s car and left abusive notes.

 "All this is connected with my public speeches. I regularly criticized the "Russian law" because it directly affects us," says Zuriashvili.

Zuriashvili turned to the police. A criminal investigation has been launched.

"The Russian law mocks and humiliates us, as if we are working for foreign interests. This is offensive to us. Also, it becomes dangerous for us, because if we admit that we are agents of external interests, then we are facing a greater danger. Violent groups associated with Georgian Dream will put pressure on us,” says Zuriashvili. “We must protect our freedom of speech and the freedom of our country, there is no alternative. We cannot share the fate of Russia."

The journalist is convinced that the Georgian president will veto the bill.

Demonstrations in Tbilisi against the law continue.

Photo: Nino Zuriashvili's Facebook page

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