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Georgian Lawmakers Approve Lifting State of Emergency


Georgian lawmakers have approved the lifting of the country's week-long national state of emergency Friday evening.

Parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze announced the decision, saying the country is no longer in danger.

President Mikhail Saakashvili imposed the emergency last week, after six days of mass protests in Tbilisi culminated in clashes with police.

Opposition activists had accused the president of corruption and demanded that he step down.

In Washington, the United States called Thursday's vote a positive and important development. A State Department spokesman said it will put Georgia back on the pathway to democracy after a brief detour. He also stressed the importance of clean, free and fair elections.

Meanwhile, Russia denounced the elections as a farce. The Foreign Ministry, in a statement, noted that the short time left between the lifting of the emergency and the vote will make a fair election campaign impossible.

In another development, the last Russian troops stationed at Georgian military bases left the country overnight, ending a two-century Russian military presence in Georgia.

However, Russia still maintains peacekeeping forces in two of the country's breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgian authorities have accused those Russian troops of supporting separatists in those areas.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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