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    GEORGIAN NAVY BLOCKS ADZHARIAN SEAPORT, 10 SHIPS STRANDED

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    TBILISI, MARCH 18, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI) - Ten or so Batumi-bound ships-tankers and dry-cargo vessels have been convoyed off to Poti in Georgia's west within a few preceding days. All are being unloaded, Zaza Erkvania, second in command of the Georgian Naval Defense Forces, said to the Novosti-Georgia news agency.

    The Georgian navy and coast guards are patrolling the Adzharian part of Georgia's territorial waters to keep foreign ships off Batumi, principal port and capital of Adzharia, a recalcitrant autonomy.

    Georgia's government followed the bidding of President Mikhail Saakashvili to lock the Batumi port, March 15, within anti-Adzharian economic sanctions, and to prevent arms and armored vehicles smuggled in, and tentative fighters penetrating.

    Naval and coast guard boats started patrolling the sea along the Adzharian coast in the small hours, March 16, to escort all Batumi-bound vessels to Poti, where they have all necessary loading/unloading conditions, as Mr. Erkvania reassures.

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