08:44 GMT +321 January 2020
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    TBILISI (Sputnik) - Mass rallies have been rocking the capital of Georgia since Thursday night after a Russian lawmaker addressed an orthodox assembly in the Georgian parliament, prompting thousands to storm the building.

    On Saturday, the protests took on unforeseen turn as anti-government demonstrators clashed with supporters of the country's political opposition in the centre of Tbilisi, a Sputnik correspondent reported.

    Opposition activists had previously been barred by local law enforcement from joining anti-government rallies. The move reportedly sparked an altercation and prompted police to swiftly break up the scuffles.

    Demonstrators gathered earlier on Saturday outside the country's parliament.

    Central Rustaveli Avenue was blocked, while there were calls for the Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia to resign over what many claimed to be the violent mishandling the demonstrators by police.

    Alongside ousting Gakharia, protesters demanded a snap parliamentary election under a proportional representation electoral system as well as the release of demonstrators detained during the first rally on Thursday.

    Saturday's protests ended with a peaceful march to the Georgian Dream party office, with protesters singing patriotic songs. Rallies are reportedly expected to renew on Sunday.

    Armaz Akhvlediani, head of the Centre for Democratic Audit and former international secretary of the political majority Georgian Dream party, said the protests in Tbilisi would continue until the country's interior minister resigned.


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