Russia asks UN to urge Georgia to stop violence

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MOSCOW, Nov 8 (Reuters) Russia called on the international community today to get Georgia's leadership to stop using violence against protesters and to respect human rights.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili declared a state of emergency yesterday and shut down independent broadcasters after police used tear gas, water cannons and beat hundreds of protesters to quash six days of anti-government protests.

''We are convinced the world community, major human rights bodies ... the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the OSCE should urge official Tbilisi to stop violence and fully respect human rights and resolve its internal political issues constitutionally, without the use of force,'' Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said on television.

Saakashvili, who faces his worst crisis since he came to power in a bloodless 2003 revolution, accused Russian special services of fanning unrest in his tiny nation and ordered the expulsion of three Russian diplomats from Tbilisi.

In earlier remarks, Moscow called Saakashvili's allegations a ''farce'' and ''hysteria'' but did not announce any countermeasures.

''We want to declare with all responsibility one more time that Russia is not an enemy of Georgia but a friend of Georgia and the Georgian nation,'' Kamynin said.

''The television footage ran around the world has evidently shown what democracy Georgia-style is -- it's a tough crackdown on a peaceful demonstration, closures of free media outlets and beatings of foreign journalists.'' Kamynin said two Russian journalists had suffered in the police attack.

Saakashvili accused Moscow yesterday of ''playing dirty geo-political escapades'' by backing Georgia's separatists in its pro-Russian South Ossetia and Abkhazia provinces.

Kamynin said Russia would respect its international obligations to seek peaceful settlement to the issues in both provinces. ''At the same time, we will fulfil our obligations to defend the Russian citizens living in Abkhazia and South Ossetia,'' he stressed.

Russia has peacekeepers in the two rebel regions. But it also gives moral and financial support to Abkhazia and South Ossetia and the majority of locals are Russian passport holders.

REUTERS MS HS1728

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