TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — The Latest on protests in the Georgian capital (all times local):
The speaker of Georgia’s parliament has resigned in the aftermath of violent clashes sparked by the appearance of a Russian lawmaker in parliament.
Kakha Kaladze, one of the leaders of the ruling Georgian Dream party, told reporters on Friday that Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze has handed in his resignation.
More than 200 people were injured after riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas and unleashed water cannons on thousands of protesters outside the parliament building. The rally, the largest in years, was triggered by the parliament appearance of a Russian lawmaker who was invited to a conference. The resignation of the parliamentary speaker was one of the protesters’ demands.
Relations between Russia and Georgia have been strained since the two former Soviet republics fought a brief war in 2008 and Russia threw its weight behind separatists in two regions of Georgia.
Georgia’s president has cut short a foreign visit to return to the capital Tbilisi afters dozens of people were injured in clashes between protesters and police.
Salome Zurabishvili, who took office as Georgia’s first female president in December, said in televised remarks in Minsk, Belarus, on Friday that she is returning to Tbilisi to handle the crisis.
Nearly 70 people were treated in hospitals for injuries in the night of clashes on Thursday after riot police fired rubber bullets and tear gas and unleashed water cannons on protesters outside Georgia’s parliament building.