Georgians protest against draft law on media, nonprofits

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgian authorities used tear gas and water cannon outside the parliament building in the capital Tbilisi Tuesday against protesters who oppose a proposed law some see as stifling freedom of the press.

The law, which has received initial approval, would require media outlets and nongovernmental organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign sources to register as “agents of foreign influence.”

International organizations have voiced concern over the draft law, saying it runs against Georgia’s democratic development.

Hundreds of people have been massing for days to protest the proposed law, and a fight broke out at one point among lawmakers. Russia's state news agency Tass reported Tuesday from Tbilisi that some protesters were injured.

While Georgia's president, Salome Zurabishvili, has said she would veto the bill, its authors say it's needed for the transparency of the work of entities financed by representatives of foreign states. Parliament can override presidential vetoes.

In Russia, a foreign agent law is often used to shut down organizations and news outlets that report voices critical of the government. Georgian civil activists and opposition representatives have blocked both entrances to the parliament building, chanting: “No to Russian law!” “Russians!” “Slaves!”

The United States and the European Union have warned Georgia that by adopting this law it would harm its prospects of ever joining the EU and NATO.

The Associated Press