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Riot Police Disperse Protesters
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 7 Nov.'07 / 14:33

Riot police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse protesters outside the parliament. Hundreds of riot policemen armed with shields, batons and riot guns were deployed on the Rustaveli Avenue after patrol police failed to contain protesters.

Television stations were broadcasting a live footage from the incident site.

Several dozen of protesters, including some opposition leaders, ran inside the parliament to find a shelter.

Apart of riot police, a large group of men in black cloths and black masks were also seen attacking protesters.

It is not yet clear how many people were injured.

Nino Burjanadze, the parliamentary speaker, came out from his office and told those protesters who were inside the parliament to leave the legislative body.

“I guarantee each of you that your security will be guaranteed when you leave the Parliament. I hope we will be able to defuse tensions through negotiations,” she said.

MP Levan Berdzenishvili from the opposition Republican Party said Nino Burjanadze had “failed to provide security of thousands of protesters.”

“I do not see any reason in talks with Burjanadze. The only thing that should be negotiated is terms of President Saakashvili’s resignation,” Berdzenishvili said.

Police has undertaken “appropriate measures” to unblock the capital city Tbilisi's main thoroughfare, Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said.

“An appropriate measure have been undertaken to unblock the Rustaveli Avenue,” he said after riot police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters outside the parliament.

“These measures are usually used in the western countries. Hence the country continues its normal life. It was essential to unblock the Rustaveli Avenue. Healthcare Minister will coordinate measures directed towards treatment of those who have been injured,” he added but failed to specify how many people were injured.
 
“Measure have been undertake to resume traffic on the Rustaveli Avenue. Illegal actions will be eradicated,” Alexander Lomaia, the education minister, told reporters.

“[Opposition] political groups should assume responsibility for what has happened. These political groups have provoked the police. Political leaders should tone down rhetoric and call their supporters for calm,” Giga Bokeria, a lawmaker from the ruling party, said.

The first attempt to break-up the protest was undertaken by the patrol police in early hours of November 7. Some of the footage which was aired by the television stations showed police evicting a small group of protesters, including at least dozen of hunger strikes, from the area in front of the parliament. At that time there was only a small group of protesters outside the parliament and it was not blocking the Rustaveli Avenue.

This first attempt to break up the rally triggered opposition leaders’ anger, who called on supporters to again gather at the rally. Few hours later at least 3,000 protesters (other reports said there were 5,000 people) turned out at the Parliament. They were sealed off by the police cordon preventing protesters from blocking the Rustaveli Avenue. By the noon protesters started to push the police away from the area and took control of the avenue in front of the parliament. Riot police and water cannon vehicles were then deployed who dispersed the rally.

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