Georgian authorities on Tuesday used tear gas and water cannons against protesters outside the parliament building in the capital Tbilisi who oppose a proposed law that some see as stifling freedom of the press.
The law, which has received preliminary approval, would require media outlets and non-governmental organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as “agents of foreign influence”.
International organizations have expressed concern over the draft law, saying it is against Georgia’s democratic development.
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Hundreds of people have gathered for several days to protest the proposed legislation, and at one point a fight broke out between lawmakers. Russia’s official news agency Tass reported from Tbilisi on Tuesday that some protesters were injured.
While the President of Georgia, Salome Zurabishvili, has said she will veto the bill, its authors say it is needed for transparency in the work of entities funded by representatives of foreign states. Parliament can override the veto of the President.
In Russia, a foreign agent law is often used to shut down organizations and news outlets that report voices critical of the government. Georgian civil activists and opposition representatives have blocked both entrances to the parliament building, chanting: “No to Russian law!” “Russian!” “Slave!”
The United States and the European Union have warned Georgia that adopting this law would harm its chances of joining the European Union and NATO.
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