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Georgians Protest Closure Of Russian Bases

31 March 2005 -- Hundreds of people rallied in the Georgian cities of Batumi and Akhalkalaki today to protest the eventual withdrawal of Russian military bases, which the government wants permanently closed.

Protesters are calling on the government to reconsider its push for a quick pullout of the Russian bases, saying the closures would leave most local residents without jobs.

Georgia and Russia have been arguing over the timetable for the withdrawal from the two bases. Tbilisi wants the Russian bases closed as soon as possible, while Moscow says it needs much more time to complete the base closures.

(Caucasus Press/AP/ITAR-TASS)