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Georgian War Veterans Fined Over Protest

Police arrest war veterans staging a protest in Tbilisi.

Police arrest war veterans staging a protest in Tbilisi.

TBILISI -- Eleven people arrested when police dispersed a war veterans protest in Tbilisi were fined today in court for petty hooliganism, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.

Lawyer Gela Nikolaishvili told RFE/RL the defendants have 10 days to appeal the 400 lari ($226) fine that each was ordered to pay.

Journalists, NGO representatives, and opposition politicians -- including parliament deputy Dimitri Lortkipanidze -- were barred from entering the courtroom due to "a lack of space."

Meanwhile, several opposition parties and individual politicians have criticized the police action on January 3 against the protesters as inappropriate.

The war veterans began a public protest on Heroes Square on December 27 against the January 1 abolition of social benefits which they had been receiving.

The former soldiers are veterans of the 1992-93 war in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia and the August 2008 war with Russia in South Ossetia, Georgia's other breakaway region.

Read in Georgian here