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Georgian Opposition Activists Abducted, Beaten

Amiran Bitsadze at the Ghudushauri clinic in Tbilisi on August 2
Amiran Bitsadze at the Ghudushauri clinic in Tbilisi on August 2
TBILISI -- An activist for Georgian opposition leader Nino Burjanadze's Democratic Movement-United Georgia is in hospital after being badly beaten, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.

Amiran Bitsadze, a two-time karate world champion, has multiple fractures and head injuries after he was beaten and shot with rubber bullets by masked men.

Bitsadze and a friend were driving east of Tbilisi when about 10 people in vehicles blocked the road and forced them out of their car.

Bitsadze's friend was beaten and left on the side of the road, while Bitsadze was abducted by the attackers and found a few hours later.

Bitsadze told RFE/RL from the hospital that his abductors used electric shocks, batons, and rubber bullets on him.

Bitsadze said they told him that he "used to beat up people at the [protest] rallies." He said he never "touched anyone" and always tried to stop police from beating people.

Bitsadze, a close relative of Burjanadze's husband Badri Bitsadze, is convinced the attack was political.

Burjanadze served as parliament speaker from 2001-08 and is now a leading opposition figure.

Her supporters say Bitsadze's beating is the fifth attack on members of her party in the last 10 days.

Burjanadze told RFE/RL in Prague that she blames the government for such attacks because "in a country where eavesdropping has become [widespread] and there are a lot of cameras, and where it has become almost impossible to even sneeze without governmental control, it is impossible for cars to be moving around this way, for people to be disappearing and then appearing in some places, with the government being unable to determine [the facts]."

Georgia's Interior Ministry said no complaint has been filed with the police about the attack but that an investigation has been launched.