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    ADZHARIAN LEADER ABASHIDZE APPEALS FOR MOSCOW'S INTERFERENCE IN TBILISI-BATUMI CONFLICT TO PREVENT BLOODSHED

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    MOSCOW/TBILISI, 14 March, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent/. -Adzharian leader Aslan Abashidze (Adzharia is an autonomous republic within Georgia) has appealed for Moscow's interference in the current conflict between Tbilisi and Batumi to prevent possible bloodshed.

    "I appeal to President, the State Duma and the Senate (lower and upper houses of the Russian parliament) to do everything in their power to stop the forces whose intrusion (into Adzharia) will cause bloodshed and large-scale riots," Aslan Abashidze said at a press conference in Moscow.

    "To prevent emergence of a new "hot spot" on Georgian soil, we ask the peacekeepers stationed in Georgia to stand between the peaceful population and the armed people to prevent bloodshed," the Adzharian leader said.

    "We know that the peacekeepers have done and are doing everything in their power in performance of their mission. They succeeded in halting bloodshed in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (two self-proclaimed republics on the territory of Georgia) in the past", he emphasized.

    Abashidze expressed hope that his appeal would be heard. "There is no other way out of the current crisis," he said.

    On his part, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has called on all foreign countries, including Russia, to maintain neutrality in the ongoing conflict between Tbilisi and Batumi.

    Saakashvili said he hoped that not a single Russian serviceman or tank would leave the territory of Russia's 12th military base stationed in Adzharia.

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