Georgia police killed two people on Thursday after they fired rubber bullets and tear gas to try to break up a protest in its capital, Tbilisi, according to rights groups.
Amnesty International called on the Georgian government to investigate the two deaths, which were apparently caused by a speeding car carrying an opposition leader away.
Opponents of President Mikheil Saakashvili took to the streets last week and have continued staging demonstrations as the country celebrated the 20th anniversary of its succession from the Soviet Union on Thursday.
Georgian authorities have maintained that it will respond with violence if the protesters become unruly.
According to the Jamestown Foundation, Russian state-run media have portrayed the protesters in a positive light and have said they are demonstrating to vent popular grievances. Meanwhile, it has portrayed the Georgian government as being excessively brutal against the protesters.
In 2008, Russia attempted to overtake Georgia, which resulted in a weeks-long conflict.
“Some of the protesters were armed with makeshift shields and flagpoles and clearly intent on resisting attempts to disperse them," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia, but “the police have no excuse for beating those offering no resistance.”
“There must be a thorough investigation into these incidents, which must also examine the instructions issued to individual officers on the ground,” added Dalhuisen.
The United States backs Georgian independence, as expressed in a statement released by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday.
America and the Caucasus state “have built a vibrant partnership based on shared values and mutual interests. We are committed to Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and we are helping Georgia strengthen democratic institutions,” Clinton said.