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    TBILISI, January 3rd, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent) - Georgian law-enforcers are working in an emergency regime to provide security during the presidential elections due on Sunday.

    "Valery Khaburdzania has already signed an order to the effect," Nikolai Laliashvili, spokesman for the State Security Ministry, has told RIA Novosti.

    According to the plan, security at life support and strategic facilities such as post and telegraph offices, telecommunications and others has been beefed up. The Georgian State Security Ministry reported that some destructive forces inside the country, receiving financial support from abroad, were interested in disrupting the elections and destabilising the situation by subversive and terrorist acts.

    The Interior and Defence Ministries as well as the Border Guard Department of Georgia will be working in the same reinforced regime.

    Polling stations will open at 8 am and close at 8 pm on Sunday, with 26 of them to be opened in the Georgian consulates in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Germany, the US and Israel.

    The Central Election Commission has no information as for the exact number of potential voters. However, it said that three million ballot papers had already been printed, including 24,800 for Georgian citizens living abroad and 298,000 for residents of Adzharia (an autonomy in Georgia).

    The Adzharian leadership headed by Aslan Abashidze earlier spoke for postponing the early presidential elections, for example, till spring or summer. However, on the eve of 2004 Abashidze changed his mind and decided to open polling stations on January 4th. He explained his position by the fact that Adzharia was the only autonomous republic in Georgia to become an example for the other two republics - Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "Our non-participation in the elections could have been a serious political mistake," Abashidze said at a press conference in Batumi on New Year's eve.

    Abkhazia and South Ossetia are not participating in the early presidential elections, as considering themselves outside Georgia's jurisdiction.

    Two political parties - Revival and the Labour Party - are boycotting the elections as well.

    About 600 observers from different international organisations - the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the EU and the CIS - will be monitoring the elections. Up to 1,000 foreign reporters will be covering the event.

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