Georgia's parliament speaker signs divisive 'foreign influence' bill into law

Georgia's parliamentary speaker has signed a divisive "foreign influence" bill into law, which experts say could have implications for the country's bid to join the European Union.

Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Monday signed the bill into law after the legislature last Tuesday approved it a second time in an effort to overcome the veto by President Salome Zourabichvili.

The bill -- which would require organizations that receive 20 percent of their funding from abroad to register as "agents of foreign influence" -- triggered weeks-long mass protests in the capital, Tbilisi. Opposition lawmakers are opposed to the legislation, saying the bill is similar to a Russian law which limits the activities of non-governmental groups and media outlets the government finds unfavorable.

Georgia, which has been seeking EU membership, was granted candidate status last December.

The EU has said the law adopted by Georgia's parliament "goes against EU core principles and values" and that it "will negatively impact Georgia's EU path."

The ruling party that played a leading role in enacting the legislation will be the focus of parliamentary elections scheduled for October.