Facing a week of massive protests in the capital, Tbilisi, President Mikhail
Saakashvili stunned Western allies in November by imposing a state of emergency, banning broadcast news reporting, closing two television stations, and deploying police to forcefully disperse demonstrators. Saakashvili defended the November 7 crackdown, saying that the protests were orchestrated by Moscow with the intention of overthrowing his government. After acceding to opposition demands for early presidential elections, Saakashvili lifted the state of emergency and the news-gathering ban nine days later. But by then, he had damaged his own reputation as a pro-Western reformer.