Hundreds of 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 cannon 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 says several policemen were hurt and police gear was damaged.

There has been widespread international condemnation of the bill, which would require non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and independent media, who receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad, to declare themselves as foreign agents.

The opposition described it as a Russian-style law that would stigmatise and clamp down on Georgia’s vibrant civil society and independent media. Further protests outside parliament have been called for Wednesday.

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”.