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Tens of thousands rally in georgian capital

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 Picture: REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (GEORGIA)
Young people prepare for a rally in the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti today. Russian troops were still manning checkpoints in Georgia and patrolling a Black Sea port even after Moscow pulled back much of the force it deployed to crush Georgia’s attempt to take back two separatist provinces.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in the Georgian capital Tbilisi today to protest against Russia’s occupation of parts of the ex-Soviet republic.

Demonstrators gathered as EU leaders met in Brussels for an emergency summit on relations with Moscow.
Central Tbilisi was a sea of red-and-white Georgian flags as demonstrators formed a human chain stretching from central Freedom Square along the city’s main street, Rustaveli Avenue.

As the Georgian national anthem played to mark the start of the rally, demonstrators joined their hands and raised them into the air.

Protester Tengiz Katzarava told AFP "the demonstration is to show how badly Russia has been treating them for 300 years."

"We don’t count very much on the Europeans. What we are counting on is the United States," he said. "The Russians understand the weakness of countries like Germany and France."

Organisers say earlier that demonstrators were to form a human chain through the Georgian capital Tbilisi and similar actions were planned in major Georgian and European cities including Brussels, London and Vienna.

Georgia is hoping EU leaders will give a tough response to Russia’s August 8 incursion, occupation of several parts of Georgia, and recognition of independence for two Moscow-backed separatist regions.