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2 Nov, 2007 00:34

Opposition rally in Georgia begins early

An opposition anti-Saakashvili rally has begun in Georgia's capital Tbilisi, 24 hours before its scheduled start time. Meanwhile opposition activists have complained about police road blocks on the way into the city.

The protestors are trying to remonstrate against Georgian President Mikhal Saakashvili's presence in power and are calling for early parliamentary elections next April rather than in autumn as previously agreed.

The rally was initially due to take place on Friday afternoon. But hundreds of people started gathering on Thursday evening and now several thousand have gathered on Tbilisi’s main boulevard.

The entrance to the boulevard has been blocked by police who were also cutting entrances to the city centre earlier in the evening.

At the moment the atmosphere is relatively calm on the streets.

World’s richest Georgian to enter politics

The opposition is also fuelling speculation that Badri Patarkatsishvili, who is thought to be the world’s richest Georgian, will officially enter politics.

Patarkatsishvili has been accused by the government of conspiring to stage a virtual revolution using Imedi TV, an independent TV station which he founded five years ago.

On Wednesday News Corporation, the world’s largest media company, took full legal power of attorney over Imedi TV.

“They’ll be no changes. There is no bias at Imedi in terms of how we report news. We are part of News Corporation and part of that is Fox News. They have a saying ‘we report, you decide’ and that’s what we do,” Newsmedia Caucasus Chief Executive, Louis Robertson, said.

Saakashvili critic forced from country

Meanwhile, Georgia's former Defence Minister, Irakly Okruashvili, has reportedly been forced out of the country even though he's under investigation.

Some think the reason is to prevent him from taking part in the opposition rally.

The Georgian General Prosecutor's office is saying Okruashvili had asked to leave for a medical check-up and his departure was authorised, but Okruashvili’s lawyer says he was pressured into leaving.