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Georgian Police Detain Three Involved In Tbilisi Violence

  • RFE/RL

Georgian authorities have fined and released two of three people detained for involvement in a February 8 protest in Tbilisi during which several lawmakers from President Mikheil Saakashvili's party were assaulted.

The two released were identified as Melor Vachnadze and Mikheil Meskhi.

The Tbilisi City Court ordered them to pay fine of 100 lari (some $61) after finding them guilty of minor hooliganism.

Vachnadze said the court "effectively had no evidence, which would show that I or Mikheil Meskhi were breaking the law."

The arrests were part of an investigation into the violence announced by Interior Minister Irakli Gharibashvili.

Some of the 300-strong group of protesters attacked members of Saakashvili's United National Movement party outside the National Library, preventing the president from delivering his national address from the venue.

Reports say many of the protesters had been held in custody for political reasons and were released after Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili's Golden Dream coalition defeated Saakashvili's party in the October election.

Saakashvili had chosen the library venue after the ruling coalition refused to allow him to deliver his scheduled address in parliament.

WATCH: Saakashvili delivers his last annual address

Ivanishvili's coalition demanded that Saakashvili accept constitutional changes to reduce his powers before being allowed to speak to lawmakers.

He finally delivered his address from the presidential palace, calling for "cohabitation and cooperation" and rejecting any suggestions that he would seek to dissolve parliament.

"This right [of the president to dissolve the parliament and the cabinet] is rather ephemeral in the constitution," he said, "and I have repeatedly pointed out that I am not going to make any use of that right, especially just a few months after elections. I see all too clearly the political dynamics and I know very well that any kind of attempts to dissolve the government now -- three, four, five months [after elections] -- is self-destructive for a political force that initiates such a move."

Richard Norland, the U.S. ambassador to Georgia, has called for calm and dialogue.

Saakashvili finishes his second and final term as president in October. His opponents accuse him of stifling dissent and violating human rights.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, AFP, and RFE/RL's Georgian Service

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