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Georgia Implements Blockade Around Adjaria

Tbilisi, 16 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Georgia is implementing an economic blockade around the autonomous republic of Adjaria.

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania said today that the coast guard has taken control of all of Adjaria's coastline, including the port of Batumi.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili went ahead with the land, air, and sea blockade after Adjaria's leaders failed to meet a deadline yesterday to recognize the authority of the central government in Tbilisi. He described the blockade measures as temporary and aimed at cutting off financial support for Adjar leader Aslan Abashidze.

Saakashvili was prevented by Adjar law-enforcement personnel from entering the republic on 14 March.

Russia, which maintains a military base in Adjaria, has warned Saakashvili against the use of force to resolve the situation.

Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov arrived in Adjaria today. He said he came to show his support for Abashidze, and not to "get involved."