(Reuters) - Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on Sunday rejected demands for early parliamentary elections after days of demonstrations, and suggested former imperial master Russia might exploit turmoil for its own ends.
"A campaign of lies has begun working against the president, against Georgia and against the interests of the Georgian people," Saakashvili said on Sunday in a television interview.
Up to 10,000 Georgians demonstrated for a third day against him on Sunday, levelling accusations of authoritarian rule and demanding his resignation.
"Two wars were started in the Russian Federation, in Chechnya, because of elections. I'd like for everybody to think what kind of threats Georgia will face during the Russian election period," Saakashvili told a Georgian television agency.
Vladimir Putin, when Russian prime minister in 1999, sent troops to crush separatists in the Russian region of Chechnya. The move won widespread support and may have helped him to victory in presidential elections several months later.
Russia has parliamentary elections in December and parliamentary polls three months later.
In an hour-long interview, U.S.-educated Saakashvili, whose relations with Moscow have been strained by regional rebellions and Russian economic sanctions, appealed for calm. "We are in a risky zone right now," he said.
He said Russia might recognise the breakaway region of Abkhazia's independence from Georgia if in early 2008 the United States and Europe recognised Kosovo's independence from Serbia.