Georgian police put an end to anti-Saakashvili demonstrations

Georgia Materials 7 November 2007 10:41 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - Police in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, have cleared protestors calling for the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili away from the front of the parliament, local media reported.

Police moved in at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, when the number of demonstrators was at its lowest, to "return life in the capital to normal," said a police spokesman, adding that the meeting had not been broken up but merely moved onto the pavement. Three people were arrested during the operation.

Local TV stations said some 150 police, accompanied by garbage trucks, appeared early in the morning outside the parliament, moving on protestors and taking away cameras from journalists. A number of TV stations said their journalists had been beaten by police.

Georgian TV also showed footage of Giorgy Khaindrava, an ex-Cabinet minister and an opposition leader, being arrested. The whereabouts of some 200 people who had been on hunger strike outside the parliament were unknown.

The Georgian opposition had picketed all of parliament's entrances and exits, demanding, aside from Saakashvili's resignation, early elections in April 2008, electoral reform, and the freeing of "political prisoners".

At the peak of the protests, between 50,000 and 100,000 people, according to different estimates, rallied on Friday, the first day of Georgia's worst unrest since the 2003 "rose revolution" that brought Saakashvili to power.

Saakashvili is accused by opponents of corruption, totalitarian tendencies, and of overseeing failed economic reforms.

The president has flatly rejected the opposition's demands, and accused Russia of orchestrating the unrest in the ex-Soviet Caucasus state.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, dismissed the charges as absurd on Tuesday. "I would not like to comment on the actions of this political figure. The farce that accompanied the Georgian leadership's actions is obvious to all."