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Georgia accuses Russia over unrest
President says Moscow funding protests against him, as demonstrations enter sixth day.
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2009 13:02 GMT

Saakashvili has accused Russia of building up its military in two Georgian breakaway regions [Reuters]

Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia's president, has accused Russia of financing rallies calling for his resignation, as protesters in Tbilisi, the capital, demonstrate for a sixth day.

Opposition leaders have rejected Saakashvili's claim, saying the allegations are part of an orchestrated campaign against them.

The president, speaking on Tuesday, also accused Moscow of increasing its forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway Georgian regions, in a direct connection with the latest unrest.

"The concentration of Russian military inside Georgia is even larger than in August, but there is no threat of a large-scale military provocation," Saakashvili said.

"All of this has been conceived in connection with the current internal developments.

"But as recent developments have shown, no matter how much money comes from abroad, Georgia is a stable country and it is impossible to create serious turmoil."

Overnight protest

Dozens of protesters spent Monday night camped in tents outside Saakashvili's presidential residence, after opposition leaders announced they would protest around-the-clock to intensify pressure on the president.

In video


President accuses Russia of financing Georgia rallies

As the sixth day of protests began in the capital, demonstrators said they would continue to protest until Saakashvili steps down.

So far, the president has remained firm, vowing to serve out his second term, which ends in 2013.

Opposition leaders are unhappy with Saakashvili following last year's conflict with Russia, in which Georgia lost territory as separatists and their Russian allies took full control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Critics have also accused him of not implementing political changes that he promised during a revolution in 2003, in which Saakashvili came to power.

They say he has monopolised power and exerted pressure on the judiciary and the media.

Saakashvili's government says it has held talks with the opposition in the past and is willing to enter into a "constructive dialogue" with them.

The protests began in Tbilisi last Thursday when 60,000 people took to the streets and rallied outside parliament.

But the numbers of demonstrators dropped away over the weekend, with only 4,000 gathering on Saturday.

Source:
Agencies
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