Protesters clash with police in Georgia for second day over new ‘foreign agents’ law

Protesters clash with police in Georgia for second day over new ‘foreign agents’ law

Thousands of people staged a second straight day of protests in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Wednesday, rallying outside parliament against a "foreign agents" law which critics say signals an authoritarian shift.

As night fell, police used water cannon and stun grenades to push back a few dozen people after they broke through a metal barrier erected some distance from the parliament.

Lawmakers on Tuesday passed a first reading of the legislation, which requires any organisations receiving more than 20% of their funding from overseas to register as "foreign agents" or face substantial fines.

The ruling Georgian Dream party say it is modelled on U.S. legislation dating from the 1930s. Critics, including President Salome Zourabichvili, say it is reminiscent of a Russian law the Kremlin has used extensively to crack down on dissent and could harm Georgia's chances of European Union membership.

In violent clashes on Tuesday evening, protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at police, who used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds. The interior ministry said 77 people had been detained.

Protests restarted on Wednesday afternoon with a march down the central Rustaveli Avenue to mark International Women's Day, which is a public holiday.

"Now is (a) time when we are under direct attack from the government," said 24-year-old journalist Mikheil Gvadzabia.

"It's very clear that more and more people realise that this is scary and they should fight for their future."

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