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Downgraded To A State Of Emergency


11 a.m. local time (7 a.m. GMT)

Yesterday, the Georgian parliament decided to repeal martial law as of today, four days earlier than initially planned. Poti, however, remains under a state of emergency, as are all other areas that Tbilisi considers to be occupied by Russian forces. That includes the Russian outposts in Georgia proper, as well as Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

I spoke to the mayor of Poti, Vano Saghinadze, and asked him to clarify the change. He said that martial law had slowed down economic activities in Poti: investment ceased and cargo movement plummeted. The main port continued to operate, but experienced significant financial loss. According to the mayor, the shift from martial law to a mere state of emergency will have a positive affect on Poti's economic life.

As I wrote in previous entries, a number of sites in Poti -- the military bases, the military port, and the coast guard facilities -- were examined by a de-mining unit from Tbilisi, which concluded that those places were mine-free. The sites, previously sealed off with yellow warning tape, will now reopen, and employees will be able to go to work again. But it is not yet clear when this will happen -- today, tomorrow, or later.

As for the Russian soldiers and their checkpoints, there's still no sign of change. Excavators are continuing to dig trenches, into which they've moved sand bags and armored vehicles.

It's a hot, calm day in Poti. The soldiers are sitting outside their tents, talking or bathing in the Rioni River.
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