Thousands protest against 'foreign agents' bill in Georgia

Protesters opposing a draft law on the registration of foreign-funded groups have clashed with police in the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Opponents say the legislation resembles a Russian law that restricts people's activity.

The demonstrations broke out after parliament on Tuesday gave its initial backing to the draft law, which would require any organizations receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from overseas to register as "foreign agents."

Georgia's ruling bloc argues that it is needed for the transparency of the work of entities financed by representatives of foreign states.

Opponents say the law is similar to a Russian one that imposes restrictions on individuals or groups designated as such, after they are deemed not in line with the government.

Tuesday's protests involved thousands of demonstrators gathering outside the parliament building in the capital of Tbilisi. Some shouted, "No to the Russian law."

Some protesters threw stones or turned to other violence and were met by security authorities using water cannons and tear gas in response. Multiple injuries were reported.

Last year, Georgia followed Ukraine and applied to join the European Union after Russia began its invasion.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned that the law may affect Georgia's ties with the EU.

He said the draft law is "incompatible with EU values and standards." He added that it "goes against Georgia's stated objective of joining the European Union, as supported by a large majority of Georgian citizens."