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Georgian Republic parliament approves state of emergency

[JURIST] The Parliament of the Georgian Republic [official website] voted Friday to approve a 15-day state of emergency [JURIST report] imposed by President Mikhail Saakashvili earlier this week. Opposition members boycotted the vote and the measure passed the 235-seat assembly 149-0. The vote follows Saakashvili's statements Thursday that the state of emergency would only last a few days [JURIST report] and that presidential elections will be held early in January.

After several days of protests earlier this week, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli [official profile] announced a presidential decree Wednesday temporarily banning demonstrations and public calls for violence or government overthrow. Saakashvili has blamed Russian spy agencies for instigating the protests [speech text], though the Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed those claims [statement].

In August, a Georgian court sentenced 12 opposition activists [JURIST report] to prison terms of up to eight-and-a-half years for participating in a coup plot that Saakashvili alleged was backed by Russia. Saakashvili has allied himself closely with the US and NATO since taking office in 2004, and Georgian authorities alleged that the convicted opposition activists had been supported by the Russian security services. Georgian-Russian relations have deteriorated markedly [JURIST report] in the last year. AP has more.

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