Washington has announced possible travel restrictions on people who “undermine democracy” in the former Soviet nation FILE PHOTO: Georgian parliamentary majority leader Mamuka Mdinaradze. © Davit Kachkachishvili / Anadolu via Getty Images

Threats by the US to sanction Georgian officials proposing a law on ‘foreign agents’ is both comical and unprecedented, a senior member of the ruling party in the Caucasus nation said on Friday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned on Thursday that Washington would impose visa restrictions on “individuals who are responsible for or complicit in undermining democracy in Georgia, as well as their family members.” He was referring to draft legislation requiring NGOs to register as foreign agents if they receive over 20% of their funding from abroad.

Mamuka Mdinaradze, who leads the Georgian Dream party in parliament, lashed out at Western opposition to the bill in a post on social media. He said this was hypocritical, given that the US and its allies were considering or already have similar laws in place themselves. The threat of visa restrictions amounts to “blackmail,” Mdinaradze said, and is particularly objectionable because officials’ family members are being targeted.

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“It is unprecedented and at the same time comical to sanction a lawmaker elected by the people for adopting a law at their discretion,” he added. “National independence is not sold for a visa.”

Opposition political forces in Georgia have held multiple protests against the proposed law, which they have described as “Russian.” It was passed by the parliament last week, but President Salome Zourabichvili, one of its fiercest critics, later vetoed the legislation, saying it threatened the country’s prospects of joining the European Union. Georgian Dream has enough MPs to override her veto, however.

A diplomatic scandal erupted amid the turmoil in Georgia, after Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze claimed on Thursday that a senior EU official had made a veiled threat by referring to a recent assassination attempt on his Slovakian counterpart, Robert Fico. Mdinaradze mentioned this claim in his post on Facebook.

European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi has said he was the person in question, and claimed that his words had been misinterpreted by the Georgian official. He said he intended to warn Kobakhidze that domestic discord over the law could escalate into violence, and thus it would be better to abandon it. (RT)