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Protesters Dispersed in Batumi

Police reportedly broke up a protest rally in Batumi and arrested at least four opposition activists on December 3.

The rally was organized by a group of students outside Batumi University to demand the reopening of Imedi TV. Opposition activists also participated.

?I saw Jumber Tavartkiladze [the local leader of Party of People opposition faction] being beaten and arrested,? Eter Turadze, the editor of the local newspaper Batumelebi, told Civil.Ge. She also said that men in civilian clothes were engaged in dispersing the crowd. They apparently claimed to be from the local security services.

The Interior Ministry, however, has downplayed the incident, saying in a statement that four opposition activists were arrested only after they had tried to block traffic. ?They were verbally insulting the police and acting violently,? the statement posted on the Interior Ministry website reads. ?They [those arrested] will be fined in accordance with the law.?

The nine-party opposition coalition, however, sees the incident differently, claiming it epitomises an alleged official policy of ?terrorizing? opponents.

?Terror reigns in the country. The authorities are in agony, awaiting their demise,? Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party said. She blamed Nino Burjanadze, the acting president, for what she termed a failure to ensure security.

Meanwhile, in a televised address on December 3, Burjanadze called on law enforcement agencies to investigate violent incidents. She also called on politicians to refrain from ?provoking violence? in the pre-election period.

On December 1 the nine-party opposition coalition said its office in the town of Tskaltubo in the western region of Imereti had been raided. In a separate incident on the same day, the coalition said, the head of its campaign office in Gardabani had been attacked and beaten up by unknown men.

Also on December 1 the New Rights opposition party, which is not part of the nine-party coalition, said the head of its headquarters in Senaki in Samegrelo region had been attacked and beaten up by unknown men. The New Rights, whose leader, Davit Gamkrelidze, is a presidential candidate, said the attack demonstrated official ?political terror? against opponents.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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