TBILISI -- Thousands of anti-Russian demonstrators rallied for a third night in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, demanding the resignations of some top officials and early elections.
The protests on June 22 were peaceful after violent clashes with police two days earlier resulted in hundreds of injuries and arrests.
Just after midnight into the morning of June 23, thousands of protesters marched from the parliament building to the headquarters of Georgia’s ruling Georgia Dream party, near Tbilisi’s landmark Bridge of Peace.
Protesters appeared to be in a standoff with police who were surrounding the building.
Opposition figures earlier in the day announced that protests would continue on June 22 for the third consecutive night, even after the parliament speaker, Irakli Kobakhidze, resigned on June 21 -- meeting one of their demands.
Protest leaders said the rallies would continue until their wider demands were met, including a call for the interior minister to step down, the release of those arrested on the first night of protests, and the punishing of law enforcement officials who used violence against the crowd, as well as early parliamentary elections.
Demonstrators initially gathered on June 20 to express their anger at Russian State Duma Deputy Sergei Gavrilov, who had sat in the Georgian parliamentary speaker's seat while addressing a council of lawmakers from predominantly Orthodox Christian countries -- the Interparliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO).
The symbolism of a Russian lawmaker speaking in Russian from the parliamentary speaker's chair touched nerves in Tbilisi, sparking the ire of the public, opposition parties, Georgia's president, and members of the ruling Georgian Dream coalition.
Earlier on June 22, thousands of protesters massed outside the parliament building in central Tbilisi.
Police had set up a steel barrier around the parliament building as demonstrators lit up their mobile phones and sang the Georgian national anthem.
WATCH: Protests in Tbilisi
Posters were distributed that appeared to show an X-ray of a rubber bullet inside a skull, apparently of a demonstrator struck in the June 20 protest.
While the protests were sparked by concerns about how Georgia handles relations with Russia, opposition parties have sought to seize the moment to press much wider and unrelated demands over economic and political woes that are plaguing the country.
There is "a feeling that [the government] is out of touch with society, that it's unaccountable, that it's quite arrogant," Thomas de Waal, a senior fellow at Carnegie Europe specializing in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, told RFE/RL, adding that the opposition is "keen to play the Russia card and accuse Georgian Dream of being soft on Russia."
Russia-Georgian relations have been strained for more than a decade.
Russian troops crossed into Georgia in August 2008 and temporarily occupied several Georgian cities in a brief war in which Moscow backed separatists in Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili called Russia "an enemy and occupier" and suggested Moscow had helped trigger the initial protests.
"The fifth column that it manages may be more dangerous than open aggression," Zurabishvili posted on her Facebook page.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin on June 21 expressed what he called “indignation at the actions taken by representatives of the radical political forces of Georgia.”
Karasin said the demonstrators in Tbilisi “used an important international forum uniting the Orthodox states of the world to spew their anti-Russian sentiments.”
On June 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a temporary ban on Russian airlines from flying to Georgia as of July 8, and recommended that travel agencies suspend tours to the former Soviet republic.
"The president will revise this decision only when the situation in Georgia is normalized and there is not the slightest threat to the security of our citizens," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by TASS as saying.
The Georgian government said 240 people were treated in hospitals with injuries sustained in the violent clashes with security officials after they tried to break through riot police lines to storm parliament. More than 100 people remained hospitalized on the afternoon of June 21, some with wounds from rubber bullets police fired at the protesters.
Georgian media said that dozens of people were detained during the first night of the protest, with some reporting many had since been released.
On the streets early on June 22, Mariam Basharuli, 27, who was sitting in the middle of the road alongside a line of friends, told RFE/RL that “we will stay here until our boys are released. So many of our friends were taken.”
Basharuli said she and fellow protesters will press their demands later on June 22 -- calling it the “last chance” for the government to bow to their demands.
Two young women and a man held a sign nearby reading in English: "The war goes on. We won’t tolerate Russian occupation.”