Protesters in Georgia block train station
TBILISI, Georgia - Thousands of angry protesters converged on the central train station in the capital yesterday, 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.
The blockade at the train station followed a massive rally in which at least 60,000 opposition supporters gathered at the national stadium before marching to the parliament building to push for Saakashvili's resignation. The president has remained defiant, saying he will stay through his second term, which ends in 2013. Opposition leaders warned yesterday that protesters will also block highways and the Tbilisi main airport to force Saakashvili to resign.
Demonstrators are angry with Saakashvili for leading Georgia into a bruising war last year against Russia.