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Georgia: Authorities Try To Prevent Refugee Congress

Tbilisi, 11 November 1997 (RFE/RL) - Georgia's Caucasus Press news agency says several thousand police were deployed around the Philharmonia building in Tbilisi today to prevent representatives of ethnic Georgians, who were forced to flee Abkhazia and South Ossetia during 1990-1993 fighting in both regions, from holding a planned meeting.

Georgia's President Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday criticized the planned meeting, whose delegates were reported planning to protest the Georgian leadership's failure to achieve a political settlement of either conflict that would allow them to return home. Meeting organizers also said they planned to demand Shevardnadze's resignation.

Two of the meeting organizers were reported detained. The meeting finally convened in alternative, smaller premises. Authorities shut off electrical power in most of downtown Tbilisi, where protesters had gathered.