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Georgian opposition turns up the heat

On Tuesday, the traditional military parade for Independence Day in Tbilisi was canceled over fears of clashes with protesters, who have been blocking the street in mock prison cells for weeks.  In its place, at least 60,000 opposition supporters gathered at Dynamo national stadium to call on President Saakashvili to resign, and then proceeded to march to the parliament building. Thousands also blocked the central train station. According to the Associated Press:

Throngs of demonstrators surrounded one train, sitting on the track and climbing on the engine to prevent it from leaving the station. The engine started and then cut off quickly as protesters banged on its sides, shouted and whistled.

Opposition leaders also warned that they will begin to block highways and the country’s main airport until Saakashvili decides to step down and announce new elections.

Since April 9, Georgians have been rallying and blocking roads nearly every day. The opposition is angry with the pro-Western, U.S.-educated president for starting the disastrous war against Russia last year that led to the loss of territory, temporary occupation by Russian troops and the bombing of their cities. They are also gravely concerned with the erosion of democracy and freedom since Saakashvili came to power in the U.S.-backed, nonviolent “Rose Revolution” in 2003.