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    GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ALLOWED INTO ADZHARIA

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    TBILISI, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Part of the concrete platforms on the motor bridge across the River Choloki, that blocked the road from Georgia's Poti district to Adzharia in the past four days, was cleared this morning.

    The road was cleared in view of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's arrival in Batumi scheduled for Thursday. He is expected to meet Adzharian leader Aslan Abashidze and discuss relationship between Tbilisi and Batumi.

    The Georgian Mze company broadcast a report this morning showing that the concrete platforms had only been taken away on the one side. On the other side, there is only a narrow passage left, and it is controlled by two APCs and a subunit of Adzharian commandos carrying submachine-guns and wearing bullet-proof jackets.

    According to the TV company, about 2,000 local residents have gathered near the bridge. They are Aslan Abashidze's supporters and representatives of the Union of Democratic Revival party (led by Mr. Abashidze too). The crowed is chanting, "Mshvidoba [peace]!" The protesters are both demonstrating their loyalty to the central authorities - Georgia's national flags with new symbols adopted on Mr. Saakashvili's initiative can be seen in the crowd, and support for Aslan Abashidze - they are waving the Adzharian flags too.

    The road near the post on the bridge across the Choloki (Adzharia's administrative border) had been blocked for four days.

    The recent events around Adzharia came after an incident at the abovementioned post when the Georgian president's cortege and other top officials of the country were not let into Adzharian territory.

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