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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgian Riot Police Clash With Hundreds of Protesters

TBILISI, Georgia -- Riot police with masks and truncheons clashed Friday with protesters who tried to block a main road in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, in support of two wrestling champions who have been accused of extortion.

The protest, involving hundreds of fans of Georgia's favorite sport, quickly grew into a demonstration against the ruling authorities. In the evening, 1,000 opposition supporters massed in a central park to demand the dismissal of the interior minister.

An opposition lawmaker had his nose broken as fist fights erupted in parliament.

"All citizens, not just athletes, Tbilisi residents or not, must protect their dignity," said David Gamkrelidze, head of the Right Opposition: New and Industrialists parliamentary group. "I have no illusions that there will be 50,000 people, but this protest is necessary so that the authorities can see that not all is going as they thought it would."

About 25 people were detained overnight on suspicion of organizing the unrest, Interior Ministry spokesman Guram Donadze said.

The Supreme Court approved the detention of Aleko Davitashvili, president of the Georgian Wrestling Federation, and a runner-up world champion, Georgy Revasishvili, on Thursday on charges of extorting $8,000 from a Greek businessman.