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Georgia to Lift State of Emergency Friday

Officials in Georgia say they plan to lift the week-long state of emergency on Friday.

Parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze announced the plans Wednesday in a televised address.

President Mikhail Saakashvili imposed the state of emergency November 7, after six days of mass protests in Tbilisi that culminated in clashes with police. The decree banned public demonstrations and all independent newscasts. Opposition activists accused the president of corruption and demanded that he step down.

Mr. Saakashvili proposed holding early elections January 5 as a step toward resolving the crisis. Opposition parties on Monday named lawmaker Levan Gachechiladze as their presidential candidate in the vote.

Meanwhile, Georgian authorities announced the suspension of the broadcast license of the country's leading independent television station, Imedi, and froze its assets. Officials accused its co-owner, Badri Patarkatsishvili, of using its broadcasts to incite a Russian-backed coup.

The Georgian president has accused Russia of stirring the crisis, a charge that Moscow has denied.

In another development, prosecutors have asked a Tbilisi court to return former Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili to pre-trial detention. Authorities arrested the former minister in September after he accused Mr. Saakashvili of corruption, sparking the political crisis. After being released on $6-million bail last month, the former minister left for Germany on the eve of the protests.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.