[JURIST] The Russian Foreign Ministry [official website] on Thursday denounced the state of emergency [JURIST report] imposed Wednesday in the neighboring Georgian Republic as "a gross violation of human rights and democratic freedom." Russia urged the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the international community to call on Georgia to "fully respect human rights and settle domestic policy" in accordance with the Georgian constitution [PDF text] and the country's laws.
After several days of protests, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli announced a presidential decree Wednesday temporarily banning demonstrations and public calls for violence or government overthrow. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili [official website] has blamed Russian spy agencies for instigating the protests [speech text], though the Russian Foreign Ministry has dismissed those claims [statement]:
The spirit of Saakashvili's speech boils down to but one thing: in the face of an external threat, the citizens of Georgia supposedly must forgive the president all his sins and resign themselves to his "establishing order heavy-handedly."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. RIA Novosti has more.
Moscow regards this fresh escapade of the Georgian authorities as a politically irresponsible provocation. An adequate answer will be given to it. However, Russia will remain true to its commitments to assist settlement of the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts and to defend the Russian citizens living there. The main thing is to see that the calculations of certain Tbilisi leaders to solve the conflicts by force are not brought to fruition. We will not succumb to the mounting provocations, and will remain a reliable guarantor of peace and order in the region, acting in full accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law.
11:25 AM ET - Saakashvili said Thursday that the state of emergency would be lifted within the next few days and that presidential elections will be held early in January. AP has more.