Protesters have clashed with police in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, after parliament backed a controversial draft law which critics say limits press freedom and suppresses civil society.
Riot police used water cannons and pepper spray to disperse the crowds outside the parliament building.
Some protesters were seen falling on the ground and coughing, while others waved EU and Georgian flags.
The government said 50 police officers were hurt and police gear was damaged.
Police arrested 66 people, including one of Georgia’s opposition leaders, Zurab Japaridze, who was reportedly beaten.
There has been widespread international condemnation of the bill. It would require non-governmental and media organisations that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad to declare themselves as “foreign agents”, or face hefty fines and possible imprisonment.
The opposition says the Russian-style law marks a shift towards authoritarianism and would damage Georgia’s chances of joining the EU. Further protests outside parliament have been called for Wednesday.
Hours earlier, police had warned protesters to disperse with a repeated message blaring through loudspeakers. Eventually, officers in riot gear cleared the Rustaveli Avenue, the main thoroughfare outside parliament.
US state department spokesman Ned Price said the draft legislation would be a tremendous setback and “would strike at some of the very rights that are central to the aspirations of the people of Georgia”. (BBC)