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Georgia: Police, Military Block Russian Military Convoy

Tbilisi, 1 October 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian military troops and police continue to block a Russian military convoy which wants to travel to a Russian base in Georgia. The Russian convoy left Tbilisi yesterday for the Russian base in Batumi, about 500 kilometers west of the Georgian capital, on an inspection trip. But the Georgians stopped the Russians about halfway into the trip. The Georgians said the convoy lacked the proper permission for the trip. Today, the Russian military convoy tried once more to travel to the base, but the Georgians again stopped them.

The spokesman for the Russian Army Group in the Transcaucasus, Lieutenant Aleksandr Lutskevich, said Georgian officials were "deliberately creating a conflict situation."

But the Georgians said they were just following normal procedure. Nino Sturua, the spokeswoman for the Georgian Defense Ministry, said the convoy should return to Tbilisi and wait for permission to travel.

Lutskevich said the convoy would not go back to the capital.