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Georgian President Visits Kodori Gorge

(RFE/RL) September 27, 2006 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili arrived today in the Kodori Gorge, a part of Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia that is controlled by Georgian forces.

Saakashvili was accompanied by the defense minister, the speaker of parliament and Georgia's Orthodox patriarch, Catholicos Ilia II.

On September 26, Saakashvili said the upper part of the Kodori Gorge, which is controlled by Tbilisi, should from now on be officially referred to as Upper Abkhazia.

He said all foreign diplomats visiting the breakaway province would also be required to visit the government-in-exile, to be based in the village of Chkhalta.

Abkhaz separatist leader Sergei Bagapsh called the moves a "provocation". Russia's Foreign Ministry warned that Saakashvili's visit to the region would be "dangerous and untimely."

Today, secessionist authorities in Abkhazia celebrate the 13th anniversary of the ouster of Georgian troops from the regional capital Sukhum(i).

(Rustavi 2, Caucasus press,

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