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Scuffles force Georgian president to find new speech venue

David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters

Protesters scuffle outside the National Library in the Georgian capital Tbilisi on Feb. 8, 2013.

Shakh Aivazov / AP

Anti-Saakashvili protesters scuffle with opponents outside the National Library where Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was to give his last state-of-nation address in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Feb. 8.

Zurab Kurtsikidze / EPA

Protesters scuffle outside the National Library in Tbilisi, Georgia on Feb. 8.

David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters

Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili delivers a speech at his residence in Tbilisi, where he was forced to make his speech.

By Margarita Antidze, Reuters

Hundreds of protesters who accuse Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili of flouting human rights and stifling dissent forced him to change the venue of his annual address to the nation on Friday.

Political tensions have engulfed Georgia since Saakashvili's party lost parliamentary elections in October to a group led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili. Now prime minister, Ivanishvili is experiencing a difficult cohabitation with the president.

Scuffles broke out as protesters barred officials from Saakashvili's party entering Georgia's National Library, the venue for the speech that was due later in the day. Continue reading.

David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters

A woman looks out of a window as protesters gather outside the National Library in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Feb. 8.