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Georgia claims opposition planned to arm protesters

RIA Novosti

14:50 27/05/2011 TBILISI, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Georgian Foreign Ministry said on Friday leaders of the opposition People's Assembly party planned to arm protesters calling for the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili.

"We have distributed a video where it can be seen how certain organizers of the protest were discussing the use of violence," the ministry's spokesman, Shota Utiashvili, said.

"And today we have one more small piece of evidence that confirms the existence of such a plan. No one has yet been detained. The investigation is continuing."

Early on Thursday, riot police used water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas to disperse opposition activists who gathered on the city's main street in an attempt to prevent an Independence Day military parade.

The opposition rally was sanctioned by the Tbilisi authorities to take place between May 21 and May 25, but the protesters refused to leave the streets after the deadline had expired.

Reporters Without Borders said on Friday that at least 12 international journalists were injured or detained by police in the clashes.

PACE officials urged an investigation into claims that police used disproportionate force against protesters. They said however that Georgia had the right to break up the rally.

Saakashvili said on Thursday that Russia had organized the protest "in retaliation against the Georgian armed forces, who heroically stood up against superior numbers in 2008."

Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war in August 2008 over South Ossetia.

The Georgian Interior Ministry said two people, one a former and the other a serving police officer, were killed after being run over by a motorized convoy of opposition leaders fleeing the scene.

Ninety demonstrators were detained during the rally, with most put under two-month administrative arrests, a representative of the Georgian Interior Ministry said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the brutal dispersal of the rally was "a blatant violation of human rights."

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