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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Protest update 4/25

I was out of town for the weekend and when I got back, whatever I had brought back, kept me home for a couple days, so I haven't been out to check out my favorite Tbilisi past-time: watching protests.

To compensate for their dwindling number of attendees, the opposition has blocked off key streets with big metal "jail cell" boxes, that are supposed to have people in them for maximum effect, but unfortunately, not enough people seem that committed to being boxed in for a better Georgia. The opposition believes that blocking the roads and inconveniencing people will make Saakashvili resign.

For an update on the situation, I recommend Molly Corso's story on Eurasianet.org.

Friday night the President was eating dinner at a local restaurant. Some opposition activists began rallying and shouting, one thing led to another and flying fists led to the arrest of one of the protesters, while a cop was sent to the hospital with head injuries.

Personally, I'm surprised at the tolerance showed by authorities. What other country in the world would allow protesters anywhere near where their president is dining?

Georgia's Aluminum Lady, opposition leader Nino Burjanadze, was quick to criticize the president for being hungry.

“While half of the city is in the streets protesting, Saakashvili is having feasts, further irritating protesters,” she said, as reported in civil.ge. Nino believes eating is "inappropriate behavior."

On Thursday, the Interior Ministry cameras caught Nino's husband Badri Bitsadze and son distributing long sticks and Lousiville Slugger looking bats to protesters in front of their blockade at the public TV station. This is appropriate behavior for lawful demonstrators.

When confronted by a reporter, Burjanadze's wires crossed: Did anyone ban batons?... And on the other hand these were only handles for flags.” Then she said protesters should be able to defend themselves against Interior Ministry thugs.

At the same time, we have another opposition leader, Grechikha, saying he will slap the face of the director of public TV if he ever sees him, for not giving the opposition enough airplay.

Really, the nuts have not been let out of the asylum. This is how politics are in Georgia, a country that aspires for membership in NATO and the EU.

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