Thousands of opposition protestors in Georgia have held a mass rally in the capital Tbilisi, renewing their calls for change. Popular resentment at President Mikheil Saakashvili’s government has been building for months. The opposition cites his increasingly autocratic rule and last year’s disastrous war with Russia.
Today is Georgian Independence Day, but official celebrations were cancelled by the authorities for fear of clashes. The stand-off is fuelling tension in the former Soviet republic, which is an important transit route for the West’s oil and gas supplies, but which Moscow considers part of its sphere of influence. Recent NATO war games in Georgia merely stoked the Kremlin’s ire. America and the European Union have urged the opposition to abandon street protests and start talks on reforming Georgia’s fragile democracy.
Georgian opposition rallies in Tbilisi