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    TBILISI: SANCTIONS AGAINST ADZHARIA SUBSTANTIATED

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    TBILISI, March 17, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - Tbilisi maintains that the sanctions against Adzharia were aimed to prevent weapons deliveries into the autonomy.

    Georgian Economy Minister Irakly Rekhviashvili said at a Tbilisi press conference today that weapons had been delivered into Adzharia via the Batumi port. According to the Novosti-Georgia agency, the minister said that deliveries of weapons to Adzharia were carried out through other channels as well.

    "The sanctions introduced by the central Georgian leadership against Adzharia only came in reaction to its leadership's failure to subordinate to the country's administration and were meant to prevent weapons deliveries to the autonomy," said Mr. Rekhviashvili.

    On Monday, the Georgian border guards banned foreign ships from entering the Batumi port - patrol launches of the Georgian Navy are blocking the port, the motorway and the railway linking Tbilisi and Batumi have been shut off, and the National Bank has suspended monetary transactions to Adzharia and cash deals in the autonomy.

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