Georgian police deploy tear gas to disperse ‘Russian law’ protests

Police have deployed riot tactics to disperse protesters in Georgia who rallied outside the country’s parliament in Tbilisi to protest a law that bears resemblance to Russian anti-independent media legislation.

The law will require media and non-commercial organisations to register as being under foreign influence if they receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered to oppose the legislation they see as impediments to Georgia’s long-sought prospects of joining the European Union.

They were faced with tear gas and water cannons.

They denounced it as “the Russian law” because Moscow uses similar legislation to stigmatise independent news media and organisations critical of the Kremlin.

During the latest rally against the bill late on Tuesday, police broke up the protest after demonstrators tried to block the entrances to the parliament building to prevent politicians from leaving.

Several demonstrators were arrested.

Despite the protests, the parliament endorsed the bill in the first reading earlier this month.

On Tuesday, politicians debated the bill as part of a second reading.

The bill is similar to the one the ruling party was pressured to withdraw last year after large street protests.

The bill requires non-commercial organisations and news media that receive 20% or more of their funding from overseas to register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power.”

Georgian president Salome Zourabichvili has harshly criticised the bill and vowed to veto it if it is passed by parliament.

However, the ruling party can override the veto, and then the parliament speaker can sign it into law.


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