Raising of new Georgian flag fuels protests in Adjaria

A division of Adjarian special interior ministry forces have been sent to the resort town of Gonio today, according to broadcasting company Rustavi-2. Earlier today the new Georgian flag was raised above administrative buildings in Gonio and three other regions of Adjaria. A segment of the local population immediately organized a demonstration in Gonio and demanded the resignation of Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze.

At the same time, another public meeting took place in Batumi in support of Abashidze and his Revival political party. The new Georgia flag has yet to be raised over Batumi. Many people in Adjaria associate the flag, which is decorated with five red stars on a white panel, with the unpopular revolt in Georgia this past November. Since President-elect Mikhail Saakashvili's victory in the recent presidential elections in Georgia, Adjaria has seen growing protests calling for the removal of Abashidze. The two main forces behind the protests have been the Kmara youth organization and the non-governmental organization Our Adjaria.

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