There was tension on the streets of the Georgian capital, with a protest against the presidency of Mikhail Saakashvili. Up to 10,000 people have marked the first anniversary of a police crackdown on opposition demonstrators. The new protest comes just months after Georgia was defeated in a war with Russia.
One opposition leader said: “We are asking for free elections in the spring, but with free media, free courts and free election legislation.” Observers say anger about Georgia’s losses in the conflict over the breakway region of South Ossetia have added to discontent among opponents.
However, two big opposition parties stayed away from today’s protest, citing the need for post-war unity against Russia. Tens of thousands of Georgians displaced by the fighting remain homeless with winter approaching.