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Russian Troops Begin Venturing Into Town


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

I was told that last night a small group of Russian soldiers entered a restaurant close to one of their checkpoints and had dinner. The restaurant staff says they were particularly polite and respectful, leaving 1,000 rubles (about $40) on the table at the end of the meal.

Today, some Poti residents observed other Russian soldiers going into a grocery store and doing some shopping. I haven't been able to find out whether they paid in rubles or in lari, the Georgian currency.

These facts show that the Russians are no longer confining themselves to the territory around their checkpoints and are now venturing into other areas of town.

There are no signs that the Russian soldiers are planning to go anywhere anytime soon. Trenches are still being dug by excavators at the checkpoints. Soldiers continue to bathe in the Rioni River.

Their presence has become a fairly routine part of life in Poti.
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