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    MASS RALLY DEMANDS ADZHARIA PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION

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    BATUMI, February 20, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - A thousands-strong rally is under way in Batumi. Protesters are demanding that Aslan Abashidze, President of Adzharia (self-proclaimed republic within Georgia) should resign. The rally has been arranged by the opposition Our Adzharia movement.

    People are rallying in central Batumi, reports the Novosti-Georgia news agency. Protesters are waiting for Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who is visiting the city, to meet them.

    Rallymen say they are seeking a peaceful change of power in Adzharia.

    Mr Schwimmer arrived in Batumi in the morning on February 20 as part of his four-day visit to Georgia. President Abashidze met the European official at the airport. They are currently holding a meeting at the president's residence.

    Several hundred supporters of President Abashidze have gathered at the opera and ballet theatre.

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