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Georgian Police Disperse Demonstration By War Veterans

Veterans protested the end of social benefits.
TBILISI -- Tbilisi police have dispersed a protest by about 20 war veterans and detained several of them, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.

The former soldiers are veterans of the 1992-93 war in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia and the August 2008 war with Russia in South Ossetia, Georgia's other breakaway region.

They launched a protest on December 27 on Heroes Square against the end, on January 1, of social benefits they had been receiving.

Protest participants told RFE/RL they hoped the country's leadership recognizes the demonstrators' predicament and that "most of the population" is also struggling financially.

In recent months tariffs for water and electricity have increased, as have fares for public transport in Tbilisi.

Deputy parliament speaker Paata Davitaia condemned today's police intervention as "unacceptable."

"It is impermissible to treat in this way people who fought to preserve Georgia's territorial integrity and today are trying to defend their rights," Davitaia was quoted as saying by InterPressNews.

Davitaia further called on the authorities to release the veterans detained today.

Read more in Georgian here