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Curfew Declared In Georgia's Adjaria Province

Tbilisi, 15 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The leader of Georgia's autonomous province of Adjaria, Aslan Abashidze, has declared a curfew amid a growing dispute with Georgia's central government.

The declaration came as Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today held an emergency government meeting to address the crisis, which erupted after Adjaria's law enforcement officers yesterday blocked Saakashvili's convoy from entering the province.

Saakashvili then gave the Adjar leadership a deadline of this evening to accept central government control or face an air, land, and sea blockade and the freezing of foreign bank accounts linked to Adjar leaders.

Saakashvili also has put the Georgian military on alert, deployed troops at the administrative border with Adjaria and warned Russia against interfering in the dispute. Russia, which keeps a military base in Batumi, the capital of Adjaria, has warned against any use of force.

Except for a brief period in January, Adjaria has been living under a state of emergency since the postelection unrest in Tbilisi last November.

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