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Russia's foreign minister described the Georgian leadership's actions during the current
Russia's foreign minister described the Georgian leadership's actions during the current opposition protests in the capital Tbilisi as a farce.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Sunday the rallies in Tbilisi were linked to Russian oligarchs seeking to destabilize the situation in Georgia ahead of Russian parliamentary elections due December 2.

Commenting on these, Russia's Sergei Lavrov said, "I would not like to comment on the actions of this political figure. The farce that accompanied the Georgian leadership's actions is obvious to all."

Lavrov also said Russia was concerned about the developments in Georgia, which is seeing its worst crisis since the 2003 "rose revolution" that brought Saakashvili to power. Lavrov added the Georgian people "deserve better, and they can rely on Russia's support here."

The opposition that has been rallying in front of parliament's building in Tbilisi wants the president to resign, early parliamentary elections to be held in spring 2008, changes to election procedures, and the release of political prisoners. The leadership has denied the presence of any political prisoners in the country.

In his first public appearance since the protests started Friday, West-leaning Saakashvili rejected opposition demands Sunday, reaffirmed his plans to run for a second presidential term next fall, and blamed Russia for the unrest in Georgia.

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli said that protests, hunger strikes or blackmail would not make the government change its mind. "The elections have been set for late next year, so free elections will be held at the scheduled time," Nogaideli said.

About 20 young people of the Georgian opposition organized a picket in front of the Russian Embassy in Tbilisi Tuesday, shouting "Moscow, take Saakashvili back to Russia!"


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