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Georgia: Authorities Deny Large Military Deployment In Port City

By Goulnara Pataridze

Prague, 18 December 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Local authorities in Georgia's Black Sea port of Batumi are denying media reports that a large number of tanks and armored vehicles have been deployed around the city.

Our correspondents reported earlier today that armored vehicles had been stationed at key installations around Batumi, including government buildings and the broadcast center.

But the press center of the Supreme Council of Adjaria, the region in which Batumi is located, issued a statement today saying there had been no mass deployment of military vehicles. It said Interior Ministry forces were taking part in "regular training to hinder criminal groups from entering the republic."

Last week, Russian troops who patrol Georgia's borders arrested the crew of a Ukrainian ship at Batumi on charges of smuggling. The crew was later released but the captain, at latest report, is still being detained. Under an existing accord, Russian border guards patrol Georgia's borders, including its seacoast.