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Crowd of over 100,000 rally behind Saakashvili

Latest update : 2008-08-12

President Mikheil Saakashvili told a crowd of at least 100,000 in Tbilisi that Georgia would quit the Russian-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Russia claims it ordered a ceasefire, though Georgia says its villages are still under attack.

  
Read FRANCE 24's continuing coverage of the battle over Georgia's separatist states.

 

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili addressed a rally on Tuesday of about 100,000 people in Tbilisi, in an outpouring of patriotism in the face of Russian attacks.
  
Georgians of all ages crammed onto one of the main roads in the capital, where a sea of flags waved above the crowd and volunteers handed out free T-shirts saying: "We are together. We are united."
  
Saakashvili, standing in front of the parliament building, joined fellow politicians making rousing speeches, the crowd answering their calls for unity and courage with wild applause and cheering.
  
"The targets of the Russian armed forces are humanity and liberty!" Saakashvili cried, his face contorted with emotion.
  
"Our struggle with Russia is a struggle between David and Goliath. And David will win! We will win!"
  
People held banners and posters saying "Freedom" and "Stop Russia" and depicting tanks with a cross through them.
  
"I came here to be with my people," said 46-year-old Maia Metreveli, a former diplomat, as she walked towards the crowd. "We would rather die than be under the Russian regime.
  
"I don't know what is going to happen. No one can predict what the Russians will do but we know they are capable of anything," she said.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Tuesday that Georgia would quit the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and urged Ukraine to follow suit.
   
"We have taken a decision: Georgia is quitting the CIS," he told a crowd of about 100,000 here, referring to the Moscow-dominated regional grouping of ex-Soviet countries.
   
"We urge Ukraine and other countries to follow our decision," he said in an address in front of the Georgian parliament building.
   
Russia currently occupies "the majority" of Georgian territory, including the separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and neighbouring areas, Saakashvili said on Monday.
   
Fighting between Russia and Georgia broke out last week after the Georgian army launched an offensive to bring South Ossetia, which broke away in the early 1990s, back under government control.
   

Date created : 2008-08-12

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