Georgia parliament to approve emergency rule-speaker

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TBILISI, Nov 9 (Reuters) Georgia's parliament will today approve a 15-day state of emergency called by President Mikhail Saakashvili, ignoring calls from the United States and the opposition to lift the curbs, a deputy speaker told Reuters.

Deputy speaker Mikhail Machavariani said the move was needed because Russian intelligence services were meddling in Georgian affairs, a charge strongly refuted by Moscow.

The emergency measure, announced by Saakashvili on Wednesday night, must be endorsed by parliament within two days. It bans large meetings and severely restricts free media.

''We think we will approve the decree on state of emergency.'' Machavariani said. ''We have a lot of information that Russian intelligence services are interfering in Georgian affairs.'' ''We want to examine this information not to allow them to organise new disturbances,'' Machavariani said. ''It seems we will make a decision to approve the president's decree about the imposition of a state of emergency for 15 days.'' Saakashvili imposed a state of emergency on Wednesday night after riot police crushed a six-day opposition protest calling for his resignation. He said Russian spies had stirred the unrest and emergency measures were needed to prevent a coup.

Russia and Georgian opposition leaders have dismissed the allegations as an attempt to distract attention from Georgia's domestic problems and Saakashvili's own failings.

Saakashvili's party and its allies control around two-thirds of parliament. The parliamentary session is planned for 1730 IST.

REUTERS RKM HS1540

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