Noon local time (8 a.m. GMT)
Georgians photograph the U.S. destroyer as it arrives in Poti to deliver aid.
I was told that some 17 tons of humanitarian aid, delivered by the “USS Mount Whitney," has been unloaded. It was first distributed by smaller vessels and then taken out of Poti in large trucks. Families most directly affected by the conflict have already received the aid.
The “USS Mount Whitney” is still here, but it is not possible to see it from the port, since it's anchored some distance away from shore.
In another development, the sites that were examined by a de-mining unit five days ago -- the military bases, the military post, and the Coast Guard facilities -- will most likely reopen tomorrow, and employees will be able to start their workweek. The de-mining inspectors concluded that these sites were all mine-free.
However, the inspectors were not able to examine areas around the Russian checkpoints. As I just found out, an effort was made to do so, but the Russians didn't let them approach. A source close to the government told me that the Russians threatened with their weapons, so the inspectors, accompanied by a police patrol car, had to turn back.
The inspectors should return to examine those areas once the Russians have left. So far, however, there are few signs of that happening anytime soon.
The Russians remain firmly stationed at their checkpoints. An excavator was working this morning, continuing to dig trenches. People say the Russian soldiers are well-built and athletic and start their mornings with a session of physical exercise. There has been no contact with the local population since their recent trip
to local food markets and a restaurant.
On another note, it is clear that Poti residents are getting ready for the new academic year. Open-air weekend markets are selling school items, and families are shopping for textbooks and stationery items. This shows that, despite the presence of the Russians, most people are planning to send their children back to school starting on September 15.