Protesters shield woman outside Georgia parliament

STORY: Police in the ex-Soviet state of Georgia used water cannon and tear gas early on Wednesday (March 8) to break up a protest outside parliament against a draft law on "foreign agents."

Hours earlier police had clashed with demonstrators, some of whom threw petrol bombs and stones. The crowd then gathered outside parliament, where some people pulled aside light metal barriers designed to keep the public away from the building.

The protests erupted after legislators gave their initial backing to the law, which critics say represents an authoritarian shift and could hurt the country's bid to join the European Union.

Thousands of people, some waving EU and Ukrainian flags, stood outside Parliament and listened as speakers denounced the law, which would require any organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from overseas to register as "foreign agents," or face substantial fines.

Late on Tuesday night protesters angrily remonstrated with police armed with riot shields who then used tear gas and water cannon. At least three petrol bombs, as well as stones, were thrown at police.