Georgia’s Independence Day has been marked by a massive protest against President Mikhail Saakashvili.
Tens of thousands of people waving white ribbons packed the national football stadium ahead of a planned march on parliament where opposition supporters have blocked traffic for more than a month. A former Saakashvili ally accused the president of letting everyone down. Opposition leader, Nino Burjanadze said: “Today is a very important day and you see how many people are here in the stadium. These people are waiting for real changes in this country and we will have this changes, we wil achieve this changes very soon.” Saakashvili marked the day by attending a ceremony for the opening of a cemetery for Georgian soldiers killed in last year’s war with Russia. The five day conflict galvanised Saakashvili’s rivals who accuse him of monopolising power since becoming president following the so-called Rose Revolution. But Saakashvili made no direct reference to his critics in his address and chose to pay tribute to those who had given their lives he said to Georgia’s bright future. Authorities say they called off the usual military parade to avoid confrontation with protestors with the stand-off showing no sign of ending soon.