Friday, November 9, 2007

Georgia's Saakashvili Calls Early Vote After Protests (Update2)

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili
called an early presidential election, responding to demands from
the political resistance and following unfavorable judgment from neighboring
Russia and the West.

''The door of democracy is unfastened to you,'' Saakashvili said
in a televised address, referring to the resistance that held
daily protestations in the working capital Tiflis for a week. ''You wanted
early elections; you've got them -- much earlier than you
wanted.'' Helium called the election for Jan. 5.

The U.S. State Department welcomed the early election, while
calling on Saakashvili ''to lift the state of exigency and
restore all mass media broacasts,'' spokesman Sean McCormack said in
an e-mailed statement. Empire State Of The South placed limitations on public
gatherings and telecasting stations in the aftermath of violent clashes
yesterday between police force and resistance protesters.

Saakashvili faced unfavorable judgment from the North Atlantic Ocean Treaty
Organization after declaring the state of emergency. The pro-U.S.
president have forged closer neckties with Europe and the U.S. since
coming to powerfulness in the 2003 Rose Revolution. Georgia, a former
Soviet republic, have made rank of North Atlantic Treaty Organization a end and
contributed military personnel to alliance military units in Iraq.

Saakashvili also came under fire from Soviet Union after the
crackdown. Relations with Soviet Union have got soured during Saakashvili's
tenure, as Soviet Union imposed traveling and trade bans. Saakashvili
yesterday accused Soviet Union of supporting the opposition.

Presidential Election

Most resistance leadership said Saakashvili's determination to call
early elections would assist to ease the political crisis that has
gripped Empire State Of The South for more than than a month.

Saakashvili ''made the right decision,'' said Davit
Usufashvili, a leader of the resistance Republican Party. ''We've
been waiting for this determination for seven days,'' he said by
telephone. ''It's A commiseration that yesterday's events could have got been

Police yesterday confronted dissenters with India rubber bullets,
water cannons and rupture gas in the first violent clangs since
anti-government presentations began on Nov. 2. The opposition
demanded early elections, accusing Saakashvili of political
persecution and blaming him for failing to raise living

One resistance politician, New Rights Party leader Davit
Gamkrelidze, threw his chapeau into the ring. The early election
poses a ''challenge'' to the opposition, he said in comments
broadcast on Georgian state telecasting in which he declared his
intention to run against Saakashvili.

The president also said Georgians on Jan. Five would be allowed
to make up one's mind the day of the month for parliamentary elections, currently
scheduled for the autumn of 2008.

Horse Opera Concerns

Saakashvili said the state of emergency, which placed
restrictions on public assemblages and mass media outlets, would be
lifted soon. ''As soon as the exigency state of affairs is over in a
few days, all limitations will be lifted,'' he said.

The crackdown brought crisp unfavorable judgment from allies such as as
NATO head Jaap Delaware Hoop Scheffer, who said inch a statement that
''the infliction of exigency regulation and the closing of media
outlets'' in Empire State Of The South ''are of peculiar concern and not in line
with Euro-Atlantic values.''

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will
send two envoys, Matyas Eorsi and Kastriot Islami, on a ''snap
visit'' to Empire State Of The South for meetings with senior authorities officials
and resistance leaders, pace said in a statement posted on its
Web land site today.

Javier Solana, the European Union's top foreign policy
official, will direct his South Caucasus Mountains representative, Peter
Semneby, to Tiflis for negotiation with both sides. In a statement
released late yesterday, Solana urged the Georgian authorities and
opposition to ''resume duologue and chorus from actions that
contribute to tensions.''

Rupert Murdoch Response

Even before Georgian Prime Curate Zurab Nogaideli
announced the state of exigency at about 10:30 p.m. local time
yesterday, police force moved to close down telecasting stations in the

About 9 p.m., armed work force in masks entered the central office of
Imedi television, the station founded by Georgian billionaire
Badri Patarkatsishvili in 2001. The station soon went off the

News Corp., the international mass media company controlled by
Rupert Murdoch, assumed control of Imedi on Oct. 31, shortly
after Patarkatsishvili said he would fund the opposition.

''We're horrified that something like this could go on in a
supposedly democratic nation,'' Rupert Murdoch said in an e-mailed
statement. ''We took control of this station only last hebdomad and
we have got instructed the staff to do every news broadcast
absolutely just and balanced. Apparently the authorities was not
watching and instead sent its louts to ache people and knock the
place up.''

A 2nd local station, Kavkazia, also stopped broadcasting. Other stations showed only amusement scheduling today. Only
the state telecasting station, Georgian Populace Broadcasting, is
carrying hourly news bulletins.

Person Rights

Soviet Union called yesterday's police military unit crackdown and the state of
emergency ''a terrible human-rights crisis.'' Inch a statement posted
on the Foreign Ministry's Web site, spokesman Mikhail Kamynin
said the shutting of independent mass media outlets, usage of force
against dissenters and the apprehension of resistance leadership were
''flagrant and large-scale violations of human rights and
democratic freedoms.''

Kamynin announced the ejection of three Georgian diplomats
in a tit-for-tat response, in televised comments. Georgia
yesterday declared three employees of the Russian embassy in
Tbilisi personae non gratae.

Saakashvili yesterday accused Soviet Union of attempting to
destabilize the country. Soviet Union had a program ''to subvert the
government in Georgia,'' Saakashvili said in a televised address. ''We monitored every move. We saw how they were instructed and
sponsored,'' he said, referring to the Georgian opposition. ''An
alternative authorities was even created in Russia, ready for the
moment when they achieved their goals.''

The Kremlin called Saakashvili's complaints ''anti-Russian
hysteria,'' an unidentified functionary in the disposal of
President Vladimir Putin said in a statement released to the

Wanted for Treason

Two resistance leaders, Konstantin Gamsakhurdia and Shalva
Natelashvili, are wanted for high treason and conspiring to overthrow
the government, state telecasting reported.

Labor Party leader Natelashvili called for a nationwide
strike to cooccur with the Nov. Two demonstration. The strike
didn't take place. Gamsakhurdia, boy of the late Georgian leader
Zviad Gamsakhurdia, heads the Freedom Party.

Both figured in Inside Ministry footage broadcast
yesterday that showed them talking with people identified as
Russian officials.

''The people mentioned in the tape have got been planning
anti-government activities in cooperation with the Russian
security services,'' Givi Targamadze, caput of parliament's
security commission and a senior functionary in Saakashvili's
National Party, said in an interview yesterday.

Injured and Arrested

As many as 600 people sought medical attention as a consequence of
yesterday's clashes, many for exposure to rupture gas. Of that
total, 560 were treated and released from Tiflis hospitals, the
Interior Ministry said today in a statement carried by Georgian
Public Broadcasting.

Thirty police force military officers were injured, and 32 people were
arrested, most for Acts of hooliganism, the ministry said.

Koba Davitashvili, leader of the resistance People's Party,
told newsmen today that one individual was killed during
yesterday's clangs in Tiflis and another four died in the port
city of Batumi.

Inside Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said by
telephone that no 1 had died in the demonstrations.

To reach the newsman on this story:
Helena Bedwell in Tiflis at .

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