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Georgia

Portugal cancel trip to troubled Georgia

08th November 2007 12:41

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Portugal were due to play Georgia in Tblissi on Saturday in a European Nations Cup match. The Portuguese have called off the match because of the state of emergency in Georgia.

After the sixth day of clashes between police and demonstrators who are calling for President Mikhail Saakashvili's resignation, the government declared a state of emergency first in the capital Tblissi and then extended it to the whole country. It was first intended that the state of emergency would last for 48 hours but it has not been extended to 15 days. Hundreds of people are reported to have been injured in the clashes with the police.

Part of the problem is tension with Russia after Saakashvili had expelled three Russian diplomats on an accusation of espionage.

On television Saakashvili, who came to power in 2003 and who has been moving away from Russia and closer to the USA, said: "Georgia is facing a very serious crisis. The high echelons of the Russian special forces are behind (all) of this."

Russia labelled Saakashvili's speech "an irresponsible political provocation".

The government has labelled the crisis "an attempted coup intending to create disorder".

The state of emergency provides for the temporary prohibition of demonstrations and meetings, a ban on "appeals in the media to incite revolt to overthrow the government" and the shut-down of an opposition television station.

The Portuguese government has advised the Portuguese Rugby Team to cancel their trip to Georgia.

Francisco Martins, manager of the Portuguese team, said: "Today [Wednesday] at 11a.m. I was informed by the Foreign Ministry that the trip was inadvisable because of the situation in the country," said .

the Portuguese Rugby Federation informed the International Rugby Board and FIRA about this situation.

The Lobos were to have left on Wednesday for Tblissi for Saturday's match.

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