Accessibility links

Drunken Raid On A Food-Processing Plant

9:15 a.m. local time (5:15 a.m. GMT)

I was awakened very early this morning by a phone call from a colleague from TV station Rustavi 2. She said she'd gotten word that Russian soldiers had stormed a meat-processing plant that belongs to food producer Nikora. (That company is widely regarded as one of independent Georgia's major commercial success stories.)

The mayor of Poti, Vano Saghinadze, says he's already visited the plant and employees there gave him an account of what happened. The workers say that around 9 p.m. last night, Russian troops simply rolled their armored truck onto the factory premises. They say the soldiers were drunk and very aggressive, shouting and swearing at everyone. And it was obvious that they were hungry -- they took all the sausages and cold cuts that they could get their hands on. The Russians didn't damage any equipment, apparently and they left as suddenly as they'd come.

Mayor Saghinadze speculated that those 60 or so troops at those two Russian two checkpoints are not getting new supplies and are running low on rations.

In an effort to find out how widespread that kind of looting might be, I went to talk to some of the vendors whose kiosks are pretty close to one of the Russian checkpoints. I wanted to know whether they'd been victims of Russian forays like the one at Nikora. All of them said that, no, nothing like that had happened to them; but their manner made me think they simply didn't want to talk to me about such things. Perhaps they weren't telling me something.

I also inquired about the condition of the victim of the checkpoint beating yesterday Ramaz Zhvania. The hospital in Kutaisi says he's still in critical condition, and the doctors are pretty concerned.