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Saakashvili Says Energy Crisis Test For Georgia

Georgians queue to fill up gas canisters inTbilisi on 26 January (epa) 27 January 2006 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says his country will not be "brought to its knees" by Russia's stranglehold on its energy supplies.

In a live television broadcast on 26 January, Saakashvili said the current energy crisis was a test for his country.

On 22 January, explosions at pipelines just inside Russia cut off supplies of Russian natural gas to Georgia. Within hours, an explosion cut the main power line from Russia, and on 26 January heavy snows severed another key electricity power line within Georgia.

Russian officials today said Russia will start pumping gas to Georgia on 28 January.

Georgian officials have accused Moscow of deliberately cutting gas supplies to put pressure on Georgia in an unusually harsh winter. Russia categorically denied the accusations, and blamed Chechen-linked militants for the explosions.

The militants themselves deny any link to the blasts.

(Civil Georgia, Interfax, Reuters, AFP)

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