Georgians form human chain to protest talks with Gazprom

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Thousands of Georgians have formed a human chain stretching for about 7 kilometers (4 miles) through the capital to protest negotiations between their government and the Russian natural gas monopoly, Gazprom.

The demonstrators, supporters of the main opposition party, say they fear that buying gas from state-controlled Gazprom would make the former Soviet republic dependent on Moscow.

Sunday's protest came as the opposition appeared close to winning its case.

The government announced on Friday that it had signed a deal with neighboring Azerbaijan to increase gas supplies enough to fully cover Georgian demand. Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze previously had justified the negotiations with Gazprom by saying Azerbaijan did not have the technical ability to supply more gas, but he said this problem has now been overcome.