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    RUSSIAN SENATOR COMES OUT FOR MOSCOW'S ACTIVE PARTICIPATION IN SETTLING CONFLICT AROUND ADZHARIA

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    MOSCOW, March 16 (RIA Novosti correspondent Maria Balynina) - Russia must take an active part in settling the conflict between Tbilisi and Batumi, chairman of the Federation Council's international committee Mikhail Margelov is convinced.

    "Russia cannot stand aside from this conflict which has already entered the stage of an economic blockade of Adzharia. This situation only stirs up the confrontation," the senator told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

    At the same time he specially underscored that the role of Russia in that region must be only of a peacemaking character. "The task of Russia is to prevent by its mediation efforts the growing of the conflict in the territory of the CIS into a fratricidal war," Mikhail Margelov said.

    He spoke in favor of joint efforts of all the interested countries to ensure political negotiations.

    "Judging by the development of the situation, just these negotiations are necessary today, and the conflicting sides must understand this," said the international committee chairman.

    The senator recalled that it was Russia who prevented a bloodshed during the recent "velvet revolution" in Tbilisi, when President Eduard Shevardnadze was overthrown last October.

    "The events that are underway today at the border of the autonomous republic of Adzharia confirm the forecasts about the consequences of that 'velvet revolution' in Tbilisi," Mikhail Margelov noted.

    According to him, out of all the states in the territory of the CIS, Georgia remains to be one of the most unstable countries.

    "At the time when the country became independent, the policy of Tbilisi practically resulted in the disintegration of the common space of Georgia; the central power controls only a small part of the territory within the borders of the state," he said.

    Mikhail Margelov is convinced that it is not Russia to blame in this situation, "as the nationalist forces of Georgia try to present it," but the unpredictability of the Georgian authorities who concentrated their attention "on trading in the geopolitical situation of the country." He underscored that taking into consideration the national peculiarities of the population in the South Caucasus, conflicts there must be settled only in a political way.

    "Otherwise, a bloodshed is inevitable," Mikhail Margelov concluded.

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