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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.

Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny leaves a Moscow court after a hearing on August 27.

An appeals court has upheld the 30-day jail sentence handed down to opposition activist Aleksei Navalny for what Russian authorities say were violations of the law on public gatherings and protests.

Navalny's spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, wrote on Twitter on September 5 that the Moscow City Court rejected Navalny's appeal.

Navalny was sentenced on August 27, effectively barring him from participating in a September 9 protest targeting a controversial government proposal to raise the country's pension age.

The court found Navalny guilty of breaking protest laws by helping to organize a street rally in Moscow in January despite authorities' refusal to grant permission for the demonstration.

That demonstration in Moscow, along with similar protests in other Russian cities, drew thousands of people opposed to the reelection of President Vladimir Putin, who was campaigning ahead of a March vote that handed him a fourth Kremlin term.

Navalny, who was arrested outside his home on August 25, has said that the latest case against him was an attempt by the authorities to undermine efforts to rally on September 9, when local elections will be held across the country.

A vocal foe of Putin, Navalny has organized large street protests on several occasions and published a series of reports alleging corruption in Russia's ruling elite.

The government's proposal to raise the retirement age has stoked widespread anger across the country, and has undermined Putin’s popularity.

The Russian parliament has given preliminary backing to the proposal that would raise the retirement age to 63 for women by 2034 and to 65 for men by 2028.

Currently, the retirement age is 55 for women and 60 for men.

In an apparent attempt to lessen protest sentiments among Russians, Putin on August 29 suggested raising the state pension age by five years to 60 years for women, instead of the earlier proposed eight-year hike.

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