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Politicians hospitalized after 10-minute brawl in upscale restaurant

TBILISI, Georgia - A brawl in a Georgian restaurant put two members of parliament in hospital on Sunday and exposed the tension between rival political factions since an election drove President Mikheil Saakashvili's party from power last year.

An argument between patrons of La Truffe, an upscale restaurant and club frequented by Saakashvili and his allies in the capital, Tbilisi, flared into a fight that lasted 10-15 minutes, police in the South Caucasus nation said.

Georgy Vashadze, David Sakvarelidze, lawmakers from Saakashvili's United National Movement, were hospitalized along with former Agriculture Minister Zaza Gorozia after the fight, which broke out around midnight on Saturday.

The injuries were not life-threatening and all three were released later on Sunday.

Western governments watch for instability in the ex-Soviet republic of 4.5 million, a conduit for pipelines pumping Caspian Sea energy westward and a platform for rivalry between the United States and Russia, which fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008.

The United States and European Union praised Georgia for avoiding violence after an opposition coalition led by billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili defeated the long-dominant United National Movement in a parliamentary vote last October.

But tension remains high between the camps of Ivanishvili, now prime minister, and Saakashvili, who was first elected in 2004 and is barred from running in a presidential election this autumn due to term limits.