Life is starting to return to something like normality in the Georgian capital Tblisi, despite the expected approval by parliament of a 15-day state of emergency. There were fewer troops in the city centre compared with yesterday after riot police clashed with anti-government protesters.
President Mikhail Saakashvili imposed the state of emergency on Wednesday, earning harsh criticism from his European allies. Yesterday, however, he announced presidential elections will be brought forward and held in January, rather than next Autumn.
One woman said: “The president has taken a normal step and I think he will win.” But another Tblissi resident disagreed: “I think that this time President Saakashvili has no chance of winning the election.” Saakashvili surged to power in 2003 after a peaceful revolution but analysts are now questioning whether he can recover politically from his brutal repression of this week’s protests. Under emergency measures, large meetings are banned and the media is severely restricted.