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Protesters, Police Scuffle Outside Georgia Assembly


Protesters at an antigovernment rally in Tbilisi in February

Protesters at an antigovernment rally in Tbilisi in February

TBILISI (Reuters) -- Dozens of antigovernment protesters in Georgia briefly have scuffled with police outside parliament in the capital, Tbilisi, and one person was detained.

Protest organizers said three or four people were lightly injured when police moved in to push back demonstrators threatening to block traffic on Tbilisi's main Rustaveli Avenue.

"They wanted to block the road, so police stopped them," Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said. He said one person had been detained and would probably be fined and released.

Several of Georgia's main opposition parties are set to protest on April 9 to demand President Mikheil Saakashvili to resign, in part over the country's five-day war with Russia in August 2008.

Criticism of Saakashvili has sharpened since the conflict, when Russia sent in tanks and troops to repel a Georgian assault on breakaway South Ossetia.

The pro-Western president was already under fire for a perceived authoritarian streak since coming to power on the back of the peaceful 2003 Rose Revolution.

In November 2007, police used tear gas and water cannons to end days of opposition protests outside parliament in a crackdown criticized by Georgia's Western backers as heavy-handed.
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