Georgia: Police clash with protestors over controversial 'foreign powers' bill

Activists were attempting to block MPs from entering Georgia's parliament building and delay a vote on the 'foreign powers' bill, ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

Police and protestors have clashed in Georgia as politicians continue to try to push through a controversial bill that critics say threatens democracy.

Confrontations broke out in Georgia's capital, Tbilisi, on Monday morning while activists attempted to block MPs from entering the country's parliament building to vote on the bill's third and final hearing.

Despite some delays, MPs voted to pass the hearing in 67 seconds during a session of the parliament's Legal Affairs Committee, according to local media.

Salome Samadashvili, an opposition MP, said she and others were prevented from entering the chamber as the ruling Georgian Dream party rushed the vote through.

The "foreign powers" legislation would force non-governmental organisations in receipt of more than 20% of their funding from outside the country to register as "pursuing the interests of a foreign power".

Police detain a protestor near Georgia's parliament building, in Tbilisi. Credit: AP

Activists have denounced the bill as "Russian law" because Moscow uses similar legislation to crack down on independent news media, nonprofits and activists critical of the Kremlin.

But the government insists the bill is needed to stem what it deems as harmful foreign influence over the country's politics.

The bill is nearly identical to one that Georgia's government was pressured to withdraw last year after widespread protests.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of protestors flooded the streets of Tbilisi, with many returning on Sunday and saying they would stay despite warnings from authorities.

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili, who is opposed to the legislation, told police on Sunday evening "not to dare whatever the threats in the PM speech to resort to repression, violence and conspiracies, or to intimidate the society, which has shown to the whole world, how peaceful and determined it is", local media reported.

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