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Russians Not Going Anywhere


Russian soldiers at a checkpoint outside Poti


10 p.m. local time (6 p.m. GMT)

A little earlier on, TV and radio stations, as well as news agencies, transmitted the words of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev -- that the withdrawal of Russian forces, currently stationed from Poti to Senaki, is going to take place within seven days.

This is what Medvedev said after a meeting with an EU delegation, led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This, obviously, is very good news for Poti's residents. But many remain highly skeptical as, ironically, just while we were listening to Medvedev's statement, tents were being erected, and excavators continued to dig trenches at the checkpoint that the Russians forces set up only today.

As I wrote in the morning, altogether there are now three Russian checkpoints in Poti. So far, the Russian soldiers don't look like they are going anywhere. Quite the opposite in fact -- they seem to be strengthening their positions, having beefed up their personnel and military hardware.

It's a rainy night in Poti. The weather and the general atmosphere are both kind of melancholic. Let's see what tomorrow brings.
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