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Georgia: Russia Fails To Meet Deadline to Pull Out Of Base

Tbilisi, 1 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Russian troops failed to meet today's deadline to pull out of the Gudauta military base in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia. Russia agreed in 1999 to leave bases at Vaziani and Gudauta by today (1 July). It handed over the Vaziani base on 29 June.

Russian officials say that local residents -- fearing fighting between Georgian and Abkhaz forces -- blocked roads and prevented the 500 remaining troops from leaving.

Separatist leaders want the Russians to stay, or at least to turn over their military equipment. Georgia wants the equipment withdrawn.

Moscow-backed Abkhaz separatists fought against Georgian troops in 1992-1993, driving them beyond a river which separates their province from the rest of Georgia.