A state of emergency that began a week ago in the former Soviet republic of Georgia will be lifted Friday, the government announced today. The New York Times reports that the speaker of the Georgian Parliament said he hoped lifting President Mikhail Saakashvili's restrictions on free speech and public assembly would allow the country to "return to normal."
Although the restrictions were prompted by six days of mass protests, the capital, Tbilisi, has been still since the decree. Despite the relative calm, the damage has been done to presidency of Saakashvili, who has long been accused of using his government as a political weapon. Saakashvili had already called for early elections, which could shave a year off his term.