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Georgian Opposition Protests Against President

President Mikheil Saakashvili

President Mikheil Saakashvili

TBILISI -- Thousands of opposition supporters demonstrated on November 7 in the first major protest against President Mikheil Saakashvili since Georgia's August war with Russia.

The United Opposition coalition held its rally a year after riot police dispersed peaceful demonstrators who called for Saakashvili's resignation.

Anger over Georgia's losses in the war has added to the dissatisfaction among Saakashvili's opponents. The opposition is demanding greater press freedoms and early elections.

Kakha Kukava, leader of the Conservative Party, demanded new presidential and parliamentary elections in the spring of 2009.

However, at least two significant opposition parties -- the Republican Party and the Christian Democrats -- stayed away from the protest, citing the need for postwar unity against Russia.

Opposition leaders said they expected 50,000 people at the rally outside parliament on the capital's main avenue, but at the rally's start, the crowd was no larger than 10,000.