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Georgian Vendors Protest Outside Parliament

TBILISI -- Hundreds of vendors have picketed the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi to protest the mass arrest of local traders this week, RFE/RL's Georgian and Russian services report.

Some 170 vendors involved in importing goods from Turkey were arrested in Tbilisi earlier this week, most of them women working at the Kidobani Trade Center in the capital.

Finance Ministry officials told RFE/RL the arrested vendors were charged with tax evasion and forgery. Some of the arrested vendors were later released.

Today's protest was initiated by Conservative Party leader Aleksandr Shalamberidze. He told RFE/RL that the arrest of so many vendors in one day is hard to comprehend.

"The lawlessness of Georgia's current regime goes beyond all possible limits," he said.

The picketers adopted a resolution at the protest demanding the immediate release of all the detained vendors.