Georgia protest against ‘Russian law’ draws tens of thousands in Tbilisi

Around 50,000 protesters marched through central Tbilisi on Saturday at a rally against a controversial foreign influence bill, dubbed "the Russian law", and backed by the Georgian government. Critics say the bill is inspired by a law in Russia that has been used to clamp down on dissent.

Demonstrators converged on Tbilisi's central Europe Square on Saturday evening in the latest of a series of anti-government protests against the draft legislation. Massive rallies have gripped the Black Sea Caucasus country for almost a month after the ruling Georgian Dream party reintroduced the bill.

Under pouring rain, protesters on Saturday chanted "Georgia!" and waved red-and-white Georgian flags and blue EU flags on the large square.

"We are protecting our European future and our freedom," Mariam Meunrgia, 39, who works for a German company, told AFP, adding that she fears the country is going in the direction of Russia.

"We don't need to return to the Soviet Union," said 38-year-old Georgian-language teacher Lela Tsiklauri.

The bill, which would require organisations receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as "agents of foreign influence", has sparked a rolling political crisis and massive protests in Georgia.

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