After several days of protests, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Nogaideli announced a presidential decree last week 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], 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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