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Police break up anti-government protest in Georgia

Riot police in Tbilisi deployed tear gas and water cannons late on Tuesday to disperse demonstrators besieging the Georgian parliament in protest over bills that would restrict the activities of foreign-funded organizations.

Though some of the protesters dispersed, live feeds from local TV networks showed thousands still gathered outside the parliament entrance on Rustaveli Avenue, defying police orders to leave or face “legal measures.”

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Earlier in the day, Georgian lawmakers voted 76-13 in favor of a bill that would mandate all organizations that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as foreign agents. The other proposal under consideration was patterned after the American FARA, enacted in the 1930s, which would have applied to individuals and included criminal penalties.

Opposition parties denounced the bill as “Russian” in style. They were backed by the US embassy in Tbilisi, which called its passage a “dark day for democracy” in Georgia and said it would “undermine the important work of many Georgian organizations helping fellow citizens.”

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