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Georgia: President Orders Full Probe Of Journalist's Death

Tbilisi, 27 July 2001 (RFE/RL) -- President Eduard Shevardnadze has ordered Georgian authorities to launch a full-scale investigation into the death of one of the country's best-known journalists. Colleagues of Georgi Sanaya, who was the lead news anchor for commercial Rustavi-2 television, said they found him dead at his home in Tbilisi with gunshot wounds yesterday after he failed to report for work.

Police have confirmed the death of the 26-year-old journalist, but have offered no further details.

After the death was announced on Rustavi-2, a crowd of mourners gathered outside the station in Tbilisi.

In addition to regularly reading the news, Sanaya hosted a late-night political discussion show that presented live interviews and analysis of events.

Separately, Georgia's Foreign Minister Irakli Menagarishvili is due to hold talks in Moscow today on the delayed pullout of Russian forces from the Gudauta military base in Georgia's separatist Abkhazia region.

Menagarishvili is expected to meet with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov.

Russia agreed in 1999 to withdraw from the Gudauta base by 1 July. However, Russian officials say the evacuation has been blocked by protesting Abkhazian separatists.

The separatists, who say they fear renewed fighting with Georgian forces, have demanded they be given the weapons of any departing Russian troops.

The ITAR-TASS news agency quotes the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying Moscow remains committed to fulfilling its international commitments to withdraw from the Gudauta base. The ministry said Russia will also continue to promote efforts toward a Georgian-Abkhaz settlement.