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Georgian President Changes Speech Venue Amid Protester Clashes

Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili changed the location for his state-of-the-nation address to the presidential palace after protesters battled with security to get the National Library to see the event.

The move was necessary because of the “managed aggressive and provocative actions from the crowd outside,” presidential spokeswoman Manana Manjgaladze told reporters. The speech was to have started at 6 p.m. in Tbilisi, the capital. The address will now be given at 8 p.m., she said.

The protesters were a mix of government supporters and former “political prisoners” jailed by the previous administration led by Saakashvili’s United National Movement party, the television station Rustavi 2 reported.

Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, who scored an upset win over the president’s party in October elections, approved legislation freeing 3,000 prisoners and reducing the sentences for thousands of other inmates starting last month.

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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