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Georgia's opposition vowed Monday to take protests nationwide after refusing a power-sharing offer from the president, who they say must resign.
A meeting between President Mikhail Saakashvili and four of his most outspoken opponents ended in stalemate. The opposition promised to escalate the monthlong standoff in which thousands have demonstrated outside government buildings, occasionally clashing with police.
Critics say the U.S.-backed Saakashvili led Georgia into the disastrous war with Russia last summer and allege he is backtracking on democratic progress made since he overthrew Eduard Shevardnadze in a 2003 peaceful revolution.
TBILISI, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian opposition parties are to continue their protests against President Mikheil Saakashvili this week, an opposition spokesman said on Monday.
Opposition groups, who first took to the streets in Tbilisi on April 9, are calling for Saakashvili to step down over his failure to carry out democratic reforms and last August's disastrous war with Russia.
Leaders of opposition parties are planning to hold two rallies and a march toward the Interior Ministry on Monday, a student protest rally in Tbilisi on Tuesday, and a series of protests across the country, in Batumi, Zugdidi, Kutaisi, Telavi and Gurdzhaani, on May 20-22.
Over the weekend, the opposition will shift its focus to the capital to hold a series of protests in Tbilisi.
Russia has withdrawn from the two-day security talks with Georgia, which was expected to take place in Geneva, Switzerland.
On Monday, Moscow officials left the venue which was hosting the fifth round of the security and humanitarian talks between Russia, Georgia and its independence-seeking republics Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Abkhazia was the first to pull out of the conference in protest at how the UN described the region's status.
Russia and the other Georgian republic of South Ossetia followed suit citing Abkhazia's no-show.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said "to discuss serious questions about security without one of the parties would be a doomed exercise," Reuters reported.
MOSCOW, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - South Ossetia has joined Abkhazia in pulling out of the fifth round of Geneva talks on security in the Caucasus, the head of the South Ossetian delegation said Monday.
"We will not attend this round because it makes no sense to discuss security issues in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the absence of the Abkhazian delegation," Boris Chochiyev said.
TBILISI, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said again on Monday that there would be no early presidential or parliamentary elections in the country.
"It is unreal today to speak about early elections," he said at a meeting with the pro-presidential parliamentary majority. "Early elections will only contribute to the situation becoming more complicated."
The first stage of controversial NATO-led military exercises has been completed in Georgia, with the second phase scheduled to start in three days.
The maneuvers kicked off on May, 6, involving 14 countries. The second phase begins on May, 21 and will go on until June, 3.
GENEVA (Reuters) - International mediators struggled to salvage the latest round of security talks between Russia and Georgia on Monday after Moscow's delegation walked out.
Delegations from Russia and the Moscow-backed rebel region of South Ossetia withdrew from the Geneva talks, citing the refusal of another Moscow-backed rebel region, Abkhazia, to attend, due to a delay in a U.N. report, both sides said.
TBILISI, May 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Georgian opposition notified Tbilisi city hall on Thursday that it was intending to carry on demonstrations to demand President Mikheil Saakashvili's resignation until June 26.
The protests will be held near a number of administrative buildings, including the parliament, the presidential residence, offices of the interior ministry, Tbilisi city hall and the office of the Rustavi-2 broadcasting company.
Tue May 26, 3:48 pm ET
TBILISI, Georgia – Thousands of angry protesters converged on the central train station in the Georgian capital Tuesday, trying to block the trains as the opposition raised the stakes in its push to get President Mikhail Saakashvili to resign.
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. Police were not visible.
The move marked a change in the opposition's tactics, reflecting protesters' exasperation after six weeks of daily rallies without result. It followed debates between the opposition leaders, some of whom strongly opposed more forceful action for fear of provoking violence.
Protesters demanding Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's resignation beat several police officers and stabbed one with a knife Thursday, officials said.
The incident raised new fears that mostly peaceful protests could slide into widespread violence, further destabilizing the strategically-placed ex-Soviet nation which sits astride a key oil pipeline carrying Caspian crude to Western markets.
TBILISI, May 28 (Reuters) - Georgia's influential Orthodox church called on Thursday for snap elections or immediate dialogue to end an "explosive" stalemate between the opposition and President Mikheil Saakashvili.
The statement's recognition of elections as a potential way out will give the opposition new heart after seven weeks of street protests demanding Saakashvili resign over his record on democracy and last year's disastrous war with Russia.
“His mental condition is even more severe than we had anticipated,” said Eka Beselia. “This means the country lacks a president simply because Saakashvili is only thinking about his personal wellbeing,” she added.
TBILISI, June 1 (RIA Novosti) - Georgian opposition activists plan to begin a long-term demonstration near the Interior Ministry building in Tbilisi on Tuesday, an opposition leader said.
The opposition has been holding round-the-clock protest actions for two months demanding the resignation of President Mikheil Saakashvili over his failure to conduct democratic reforms and last August's disastrous war with Russia.
"The opposition members will gather at noon [07:00 GMT] on Rustaveli Avenue near the parliament and will head towards the Interior Ministry to hold a picket," said Eka Beselia of the Movement for United Georgia.
Tbilisi's authorities said earlier on Monday they planned to "clean and disinfect" Freedom Square following the opposition rallies, which have lasted since early April.
The opposition unblocked the square by early Monday. Protesters later locked themselves in around 500 cells that they said symbolized the police state run by Saakashvili.
TBILISI, June 9 (RIA Novosti) - Over 20,000 members of the Georgian opposition marched from the country's parliament to the interior ministry building in the capital Tbilisi on Tuesday to mark two months of protests in the country.
The opposition has been holding round-the-clock protests since April 9 demanding President Mikheil Saakashvili step down over his failure to carry out democratic reforms and last August's war with Russia.