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Police use violence to break up Tbilisi protest

Georgian police used their truncheons to disperse a group of about 50 protestors in central Tsibili, according to a Reuters photographer, breaking up a demonstration demanding the release of several opposition activists detained last week.


REUTERS - Masked police beat dozens of opposition protesters in the Georgian capital on Monday, a Reuters photographer said, in the latest flare-up during a weeks-long street campaign against the president.


Dozens of black-clad men armed with truncheons emerged from the main police station in Tbilisi to confront a protest of about 50 people demanding the release of several opposition activists detained last week.


Tensions were running high in the former Soviet republic, where President Mikheil Saakashvili has resisted more than two months of protests and roadblocks in Tbilisi. Protesters want him to quit over his record on democracy and last year’s disastrous war with Russia.


The number of demonstrators numbers have waned, but roadblocks created by dozens of mock prison cells encircling the parliament remain.


The Reuters photographer said police had seized cameras from journalists and arrested some of the protesters. Masked police filled the police compound.


The Georgian government has been wary of repeating a 2007 crackdown against the last mass demonstrations against Saakashvili, when police firing tear gas and rubber bullets dispersed crowds outside parliament.


However, tensions have been rising. On Friday, protesters threw rocks and bottles at parliament speaker David Bakradze and on Monday dozens of men with knives and sticks broke up several mock prison cells behind parliament.

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