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Former Georgia Defense Minister Cancels Visit to Join Protests

May 24 (Bloomberg) -- Irakli Okruashvili, a former Georgian defense minister living in asylum in France, canceled a planned visit to join anti-government protesters in Tbilisi because of a disagreement among opposition groups, opposition leader Nino Burjanadze said.

Okruashvili, a former ally of President Mikheil Saakashvili, who is now an opponent, was due to arrive on May 25 to join the protests. France granted Okruashvili asylum in 2008 after a Georgian court convicted him of extortion and sentenced him to 11 years in prison.

Georgia’s Deputy Prime Minister Giorgi Baramidze said in an interview with Radio Tavisupleba that Burjanadze’s approval rating was as low as 2 percent, according to recent polls, the Georgian-language service of Radio Free Europe cited Baramidze as saying.

Protests continued for a fourth day in Tbilisi today as several dozen people gathered in the streets for a rally in the capital, Shota Utiashvili, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said in a phone interview from the capital.

To contact the reporter on this story: Helena Bedwell in Tbilisi at hbedwell@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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