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Kremlin-Sponsored Media Forum Held In Tbilisi Amid Protests

Georgian activists rally against the media forum in Tbilisi on September 5.
Georgian activists rally against the media forum in Tbilisi on September 5.

TBILISI -- A Kremlin-sponsored media forum is under way in Tbilisi amid protests.

Dozens of activists from a civic group called Russia Is An Occupier rallied on September 5 in front of the Vere Palace Hotel in Tbilisi, where the forum organized by the Presidential Grant Foundation -- a Moscow-based organization that handles grants approved by President Vladimir Putin with the stated aim of the development of civil society -- was taking place

Protesters chanted "Russia is an occupier!" and "Russia kills!" The protesters also organized a performance accusing Georgian authorities of "welcoming people who promote Putin's polices."

Police stood by at the site.

On September 4, Georgian authorities barred three Russian journalists who intended to take part in the media forum from entering the country.

Viktor Litovkin, Gennady Bordyugov, and Aleksandr Tokarev later said that they were not allowed to enter Georgia because they have visited breakaway, Russian-backed regions in the past.

Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have remained tense in the years since the two countries fought a five-day war in August 2008 over Georgia's separatist region of South Ossetia.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia shed the control of the central government in Tbilisi in separatist wars in the early 1990s.

Russia stepped up its military presence in South Ossetia and Abkhazia after recognizing them as independent states following the 2008 war.

The vast majority of world countries rejects the regions' independence claims and considers them part of Georgia.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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