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Georgians Mark Anniversary Of Soviet Crackdown

9 April 2005 -- Georgians today marked the 16th anniversary of the bloody Soviet crackdown against unarmed pro-independence demonstrators in the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Hundreds of Georgians gathered in central Tbilisi before dawn today, placing flowers and lighting candles outside the parliament building in remembrance of the 21 people who were killed when Soviet forces broke up a crowd of demonstrators in 1989.

Georgia became independent two years later when the Soviet Union fell apart.

A Georgian human rights group called for Georgia's former president, Eduard Shevardnadze, to face prosecution for his alleged role in the crackdown.

Giorgi Kervalishvili of the Association for the Protection of Human Rights in Georgia said Shevardnadze -- Soviet foreign minister at the time -- should be tried for endorsing the decision to use force against the demonstrators in 1989.

A spokesman for President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has promised Shevardnadze immunity from prosecution, said that pledge will be kept.


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