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Sporadic Electricity And The Sound Of Excavators


Digging in

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

This evening Poti was left without electricity for half an hour. I made some calls, and was told that the power cut had nothing to do with the current situation or the Russian forces. They told me it was a "frequency" problem, and electricity would return shortly -- which it did.

As I'm writing this, Ramaz Zhvania, the severely beaten man, is being taken to Kutaisi. Local authorities are taking care of his transportation. Since my last entry, his condition has worsened a bit, unfortunately -- the doctors have said his condition is "serious but stable."

The Russian soldiers, their armored vehicles, and military hardware remain at their checkpoints. This is hardly surprising, as it was only the other day that Anatoly Nogovitsin, the deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, openly declared that the Russian forces were here to stay. Just because the 1994 cease-fire agreement did not define Poti as part of the "security zone," he said, this did not mean the Russian forces were going to be sitting behind the fence, watching as the Georgians "drive their Humvees and move munitions around in trucks." So this is what's happening, I guess.

We could still hear the sounds of excavators today -- indicating that the Russian soldiers have carried on digging their trenches. No one knows why exactly they are doing this. Altogether, there are around 60 troops -- perhaps a few more -- but the personnel keep rotating. A little while ago I spoke with the deputy mayor of Poti, Gela Lagvilava, who told me that the soldiers had been seen sunbathing barechested not far from the beach.
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