Permalink Anti-Government Protests Erupt in Georgia

The police clashed with anti-government protesters in Georgia on Sunday, at one point firing tear gas and rubber bullets, as hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the capital of the former Soviet republic to demand the ouster of President Mikhail Saakashvili.

The protesters, some carrying clubs and with their faces covered by masks, gathered at the headquarters of Georgia’s public television channel in the capital Tbilisi. About 2,000 people attended the rally, officials said, small by Georgian standards. They accused Mr. Saakashvili of stifling pro-Western democratic reforms promised when he came to power in a bloodless coup in 2003. They also expressed anger at enduring poverty and unemployment. Though the demonstration was largely peaceful, about a dozen protesters attacked a police cruiser with sticks early Sunday morning, forcing police to retaliate, said Shota Utiashvili, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry. Police "had to" use a small amount of tear gas and rubber bullets against a small number of demonstrators, Mr. Utiashvili said. He said two people were arrested, and five people, including the three police officers in the car, suffered minor injuries.


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