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Georgian Opposition Activists Detained At Protest In Tbilisi

Opposition supporters clash with police in front of the Tbilisi city council during a protest rally in Tbilisi on October 10.

TBILISI -- Police have scuffled with Georgian opposition activists who were protesting against the Tbilisi city council's move to give a plot of land to a construction company linked to billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, the founder of the Georgian Dream party.

Eight activists were detained during the unrest late on October 10 near the Tbilisi city-council building.

Hundreds of opposition activists rallied near the building, demanding they be allowed to attend a council session addressing the issue that day.

Opposition parties have the right to participate in council sessions and cast "advisory votes."

But opposition representatives were barred from the session during which the council decided to let a company linked to Ivanishvili own the lot on Liberty Square in downtown Tbilisi, where a new hotel and parking area are planned.

Ivanishvili founded Georgian Dream, which ousted Mikheil Saakashvili's party and came to power in 2012 parliamentary elections.

Ivanishvili announced he was withdrawing from politics after served as prime minister from October 2012 to November 2013, but many in the South Caucasus state believe he continues to control Georgian Dream from behind the scenes.