Police in Georgia used water cannon and teargas in an attempt to disperse thousands of people who rallied on Tuesday night after parliament gave its initial backing to a draft law on “foreign agents” which critics say represents an authoritarian shift.
Some protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police in the center of the capital Tbilisi, as demonstrators warned that the draft law could hurt the south Caucasus country’s hopes of EU membership.
The law, backed by the ruling Dream party, would require any organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from overseas to register as “foreign agents,” or face substantial fines.
Georgia’s president, Salome Zourabichvili, has said she intends to veto the law, but the parliament could override her veto. She expressed solidarity with the protesters on Tuesday.
“You represent a free Georgia, a Georgia which sees its future in the west, and won’t let anyone to take this future away,” she said in an address recorded in the US, where she is on an official visit.
“Nobody needs this law … everyone who has voted for this law has violated the constitution,” she said.