Georgia President Mikhail Saakashvili today announced a special early presidential election for Jan. 5, an apparent attempt to end the massive civil unrest in Tbilisi, the capital of the former Soviet republic. It was an abrupt about-face for Saakashvili, who had refused even to consider elections; January's vote could shorten his term by a year, the New York Times reports.
Saakashvili—pro-West and backed by the US—declared a state of emergency yesterday, closing TV stations and banning all assembly in Tbilisi. Opposition leaders are incensed at what they're calling a brutal crackdown on protesters. "The authorities have used weapons against the peaceful demonstrators, and therefore the authorities will get what they deserve from the people,” one opposition legislator said.