6 p.m. local time (2 p.m. GMT)
Irakli Gvaladze, the minister for environmental protection, came to Poti today. Environmental pollution has become one of the most pressing issues here. The sinking of Georgian ships and boats by the Russians has polluted the harbor. The full extent of the pollution is yet to be assessed. According to preliminary observations, the authorities suspect that up to 50 tons of oil has leaked into the sea.
But this isn't the only environmental damage that has been inflicted recently. During his visit, Gvaladze also said that the local foresters had notified the ministry that Russian soldiers are engaged in illegal logging, destroying large amounts of trees. There are rare tree species in the forest reserves here, Kolkhian oak among them, and the Russians are cutting them down.
What's more, the minister said the Russians are also poaching fish, targeting the rare species of Kolkhian sturgeon that live at the mouth of the Rioni River. According to Gvaladze, inspectors from the Environmental Protection Agency say that the Russians use special, long fishing nets to catch the fish illegally.