Georgia approves controversial law that sparked mass protests
  • Reyhan Dimitri and Emily Atkinson in Tbilisi
  • BBC News

image caption, Protests are now a daily sight in Tbilisi and show few signs of ending

Georgia’s parliament has voted through a divisive “foreign agent” law that has sparked weeks of mass street protests.

However, the bill now faces a veto by Georgia’s president, with parliament able to override it by holding an additional vote.

Critics have previously said the bill – which they call the “Russia Act” – could be used to threaten civil liberties.

Thousands of people gathered near the Parliament against this decision.

On Monday, Prime Minister Irakli Kobakitse warned that Georgia could lose sovereignty if officials backed out of the bill’s third reading and “could easily share Ukraine’s fate,” without elaborating on what he meant.

Thousands of people gathered near the Georgian parliament on Tuesday morning to protest the law’s early passage.

Protesters attacked police officers – wearing full riot gear – guarding the building’s side entrances. A tense atmosphere prevailed inside Parliament as well, with physical and verbal altercations between government and opposition MPs.

As he entered the parliament building, President Salome Sourabichvili – Mr Kopakidze’s opponent – told the BBC she would veto the legislation.

However, Georgian Dream has enough numbers in parliament to reject him, and there is some doubt that the law will pass.

Under the bill – which passed its third and final reading on Tuesday – NGOs and independent media that receive more than 20% of their funding from foreign donors must register as organizations “bearing the interests of a foreign power”.

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They are monitored by the Ministry of Justice and could be forced to share sensitive information – or face fines of up to 25,000 GEL ($9,400; £7,500).

Opponents fear the government is using the law to crack down on protesters. Parallels have also been drawn to a dictatorship bill that came into effect in Russia in 2012 and has been used by the Kremlin to rein in dissidents.

Opposition parties say the law will harm Georgia’s bid to join the European Union (EU), which has given it candidate status. The EU has warned that the bill could jeopardize further progress within the bloc.

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