Georgian opposition politician beaten by hooded thugs blames 'Putin's puppets'

A Georgian opposition politician who was beaten by a group of hooded thugs has said he was targeted by "Putin's puppets".

United National Movement member Dimitri Chikovani was taken to hospital after suffering a concussion, a broken nose, cuts to the face and two black eyes in the attack outside his home.

In an interview with Sky News, Mr Chikovani said the attack was not a surprise and blamed Georgian authorities as they attempt to temper enormous protests in the capital Tbilisi.

"This is their last hope to physically attack people to gain to remain in power," he said.

"They are Putin's puppets, the people who make decisions under KGB guidelines, they are Russians. That's it."

CCTV of the attack shows Mr Chikovani walking through the car park to his apartment building before five "athletic" men ran and pushed him to the floor.

They repeatedly punched and kicked him in the head and ribs.

Mr Chikovani was not the only government opponent beaten on Wednesday.

Two other activists, one an expert in international relations and another an organiser of Saturday night's March for Freedom, were also treated in hospital after being attacked.

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Mr Chikovani remains undeterred and plans to attend protests next week against the so-called "Foreign Agents Bill", which has sparked an outcry across Georgia.

Describing the mood among many Georgians, he said: "It's a battle for the soul of Georgia. It's a matter of national identity. Either you are part of Western civilisation, or you are a part of the Russian empire."

The UK and US have called for the country's government, led by the Georgian Dream party, to take immediate steps to prevent the intimidation of protesters.

The party's chairman Bidzina Ivanishvili is an oligarch worth billions, and is suspected by many Georgians of continuing to have close ties to Russia.

Mr Ivanishvili has claimed the bill on "foreign agents" was necessary to assert Georgian sovereignty against Western powers which he said wanted to pull the nation into a confrontation with Russia.

Mr Chikovani believes the billionaire is a driving force behind the political crackdown which has grown in Georgia over the past few weeks.

"You can expect anything from Ivanishvili," he said.