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    ADZHARIA WILL NOT DISSOLVE ITS STATE SECURITY MINISTRY

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    TBILISI, March 9, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - The authorities of the Georgian autonomy of Adzharia will not abolish the local State Security Ministry. Adzharian Interior Minister Dzhemal Gogitidze made a statement to this effect on Tuesday, reports RIA Novosti-Georgia news agency.

    "The Georgian president's demand to dissolve the ministry is fraught with a new conflict between the centre and the region," said Mr Gogitidze.

    "Adzharia has the prerogative to have ministries and agencies, which are in the autonomy's interests. Infringements on the status of autonomy may spark a serious international scandal," said the minister.

    On March 6, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili submitted a bill to Parliament abolishing Adzharia's State Security Ministry.

    "There is one Constitution in Georgia, and there must be one security ministry," Mr Saakashvili told reporters in Tbilisi. Moreover, the president said some of Adzharian State Security officers engaged in espionage against Georgia.

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