One policeman killed, 19 injured in Tbilisi clashes with protesters

A policeman was killed and 19 more were injured after Georgian special task police forces clashed with protesters, who gathered near the Parliament building in downtown Tbilisi, a Georgian Interior Ministry’s official said on Thursday.

On early Thursday morning, policemen dispersed protesters, demanding resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili, from the Rustaveli Avenue using water cannons and tear gas.

Shota Utiashvili, the head of the ministry’s analytical department, said the policemen was killed after he was run over by a motorized convoy of opposition leaders, who fled the scene as the police began its operation to disperse the protesters.

He added that 19 more policemen, who were injured during the clashes with the protesters, are currently in hospitals and are in stable condition.

According to other reports, at least 10 people were hospitalized after the police operation.

Georgian news agency Pirveli says that several Russian journalists were detained during the clash.

The People’s Assembly opposition party was officially sanctioned to hold protests at the Rustaveli Avenue near the Parliament until Wednesday midnight, however, protesters decided to stay after that time.

Following the last warning to abandon the Rustaveli Avenue, the authorities ordered special task police forces to disperse the crowds.

After the police operation, the protesters changed their location and are currently gathered at Tbilisi’s central Freedom Square, which is several hundred meters away from the Rustaveli Avenue.

Oppositionists say that the special task police forces acted “without remorse” adding that the law enforcement officials used “disproportional force” in regard to them.

Saakashvili was elected president by a landslide in 2004 after the Rose Revolution, but his popularity has waned since a series of corruption scandals in 2007 and the destructive 2008 war with Russia.

TBILISI, May 26 (RIA Novosti)

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