Protesters gather against foreign influence bill in Georgia

Large crowds have gathered in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, protesting a bill which they say is aimed at controlling organizations that receive foreign funding.

The bill was introduced by the ruling party. If adopted, the legislation would require non-government organizations and media outlets receiving more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as agents of foreign influence.

Protesters say that the bill is similar to a Russian law which is used by the government to limit the activities of organizations and media which the government finds unfavorable.

As voting on the bill is expected to take place soon, tens of thousands of people rallied in a square in central Tbilisi on Saturday.

Participants said that free and democratic Georgia does not need this kind of bill.

One participant said that it is actually a Russian law which would be an obstacle for Georgia's aspiration to join the European Union, expressing hope that the protests will help get the bill rejected.

Another said that they need to protest for their future.

Georgia has applied to join the EU, but the founder of the ruling party is said to be close to Russia.

European Council President Charles Michel said on social media, "Georgian citizens' call for an open democratic and pluralistic society must be heeded."