Tbilisi (GBC) -  The Georgian Parliament on Wednesday approved the first reading of the bill on the transparency of foreign influence that has sparked public protests and criticism by some of the country’s foreign partners.

The legislative piece calls for registration of non-commercial legal entities and media outlets in the country as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they derive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad, and was supported by 83 MPs in the 150-member lawmaking body.

It requires groups “considered to be an organisation pursuing the interests of a foreign power” to be registered in public registry with the status and publicise their received funding.

The law empowers the Ministry of Justice to “conduct research and monitor the issue at any time in order to identify organisations pursuing the interests of a foreign power”.

The Parliament will have further two hearings of the draft law before it can be approved and enter into force.