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Georgians Protest Planned Military Alliance Between Abkhazia and Russia

People hold banners during an opposition rally to protest against Russia's policy toward Georgia and Ukraine in Tbilisi, Nov. 15, 2014.

Tens of thousands of Georgians marched through Tbilisi Saturday against what they say is the government's passive reaction to a planned military alliance between Russia and the breakaway Abkhazia republic.

The protesters say the agreement, which has yet to be finalized, is a step toward Russian annexation of Abkhazia.

Some of the marchers carried signs with Russian President Vladimir Putin's face crossed out.

They are demanding the Georgian government take stronger steps to oppose the measure that would create a joint Russian-Abkhazian military force.

Opposition leader and former Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili spoke to the crowd by a video link from Kyiv. He accused the Georgian government of bowing its head to "the bear" — a reference to Russia.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakil Garibashvili has said he is aware of the threat caused by the pending deal.

The northwestern Georgian province declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s.

Russia recognized an independent Abkhazia in 2008 after a brief war with Georgia over another pro-Russian breakaway region, South Ossetia.