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Georgia Urges Troops In Adjaria To Stay Loyal

20 April 2004 -- Georgian authorities today urged members of a military unit garrisoned in the autonomous republic of Adjaria to remain loyal to the central government and not follow the orders of a renegade commander.

The crisis started when Roman Dumbadze, the commander of Georgia's 500-man 25th Brigade unit in Adjaria, refused to leave his position when he was dismissed.

Dumbadze has openly sided with Adjar leader Aslan Abashidze, who has ruled over Adjaria as if it were an independent state since 1991, though there has never been any declaration of independence.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has vowed to bring all Georgian regions back under Tbilisi's control.

Georgia's Defense Ministry has called on the soldiers in the 25th Brigade to obey the orders of the Georgian president. (Reuters, RFE/RL)