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Thousands Attend Anti-Russian Rally In Georgian Capital

Thousands of people gathered in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on March 6 to protest negotiations between their government and Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

The demonstrators formed a nearly 7-kilometer human chain stretching from the Russian Embassy to the government headquarters.

The protesters say they fear that buying gas from Gazprom would make Georgia dependent on Russia.

The rally was organized by former President Mikheil Saakashvili's pro-Western United National Movement party (UNM) that accuses Moscow of using Gazprom in a bid to prevent Georgia from forging closer ties with the West.

On March 5, the government announced that it had abandoned its initial plan to buy natural gas from Russia after it had signed a deal with Azerbaijan to increase gas supplies enough to fully cover Georgian demand.

David Bakradze, a UNM lawmaker, claimed that the decision was the result of opposition pressure on the authorities.

Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in August 2008 over the two Moscow-backed breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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