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Russia warns Georgia against force


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Abashidze Saakashvili is trying to remove him from office.

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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Moscow has warned the former Soviet republic of Georgia not to use force against the autonomous Adzharia region, Interfax news agency reports.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said there were indications Tbilisi planned to force the region's unification with Georgia.

The statement follows a meeting between Adzharia's President Aslan Abashidze and Russian officials on Saturday.

"In case of a crisis," Yakovenko warned, "responsibility will lie with the Georgian leadership."

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, who is reported to have been denied entry into the region on Sunday, said he would give the Adzharian leadership time to "make the right choice and avoid confrontation.

"Georgia will make a maximum effort to resolve the situation peacefully," he told journalists from the Georgian Black Sea town of Poti, according to Interfax.

"On the other hand, we have no surrender plans this time."

Saakashvili has warned he does not want to see the Republic of Georgia broken up into feudal fiefdoms. He will meet his cabinet in Poti to determine how his government will deal with the autonomous region.

Abashidze fears Saakashvili is trying to remove him from office, four months after he led a successful coup to replace longtime president Eduard Shevardnadze.


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