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The President Comes To Poti

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

For the first time in weeks, there are people on the streets, and some of them even look happy. It's all because President Mikheil Saakashvili has paid a visit to Poti, and the town suddenly feels it hasn't been forgotten.

The announcement of the president's visit came on short notice and created a buzz among journalists and the local administration. His first destination was the seventh pier of the Poti port -- the first spot that was hit by Russian bombs when the conflict began three weeks ago. Saakashvili's comments there were brief, but very direct in condemning Russian aggression.

At City Hall, Saakashvili was greeted by a crowd waving flags and chanting "Misha!" Speaking to leaders from Poti and elsewhere in the region, he expressed his gratitude to security officials who have tried to keep the peace, and to local people for keeping calm and not escalating the conflict. The president tried to assuage residents' fears that the Russians will remain in the town, despite their purported plans to leave as early as this evening. Saakashvili even offered a vision of Poti's bright economic future: Where there are now Russian troops, he said, there will one day be skyscrapers built with foreign investment.

For now, though, the Russians troops are entrenched, and apparently getting hungry. In the second such incident, troops entered a meat processing plant and helped themselves to supplies. One can't help but wonder if they're stocking up for an extended stay.