There is real concern in Georgia that increasingly violent protests could degenerate into wider civil unrest. A police officer is recovering in hospital after being stabbed last night in clashes with demonstrators calling for the resignation of the president.
Georgia’s interior ministry says several other officers were attacked. Opposition leaders though claim a group of plain-clothes policemen sparked the violence by beating up activists with batons. The influential leader of the country’s Orthodox Church appealed yesterday for new elections or dialogue to break the deadlock. Street rallies have been held in the Georgian capital Tbilisi every day for the last seven weeks. Those taking part accuse president Mikhail Saakashvili of monopolising power and criticise him for last year’s crushing military defeat at the hands of Russia. Roads and railways have been blocked but there has been no police crackdown so far.