President warns Russian troops against interference in Georgian affairs
Imedi TV, Tbilisi
12 Mar 04
[Presenter] It was reported in Ajaria this morning that the centre was
planning to deploy the Commando Battalion in Batumi [Ajarian capital]
to establish control there.
The Ajarian interior minister [Jemal Gogitidze] said in a telephone
conversation with us that official Batumi had received this
information a long time ago. He said that Ajarian law enforcers had
been mobilized in this connection. Also, today Jemal Gogitidze denied
the information that a 60-strong group from the Netkachovi [as heard]
unit had abandoned [Ajarian leader] Aslan Abashidze.
Before flying to Yerevan, President [Mikheil] Saakashvili said once
again that the attention to Ajaria would not be lessened.
Saakashvili commented on today’s reports that the transfer of Russian
servicemen to Ajaria was continuing. It has been reported that 79 new
recruits were transferred to Batumi from the Armenian town of Gyumri
this morning. The servicemen were brought there by a special
train. The Russian side has been carrying out a rotation of its
servicemen at the military base in Ajaria for a month.
[Saakashvili, speaking to journalists at Tbilisi airport. Video starts
in mid-sentence] – they want to divert attention from Ajaria.
We will respond to the extremists in Tbilisi and we will detain those
who violate human rights in Batumi as well. Their hope that we will
give up Ajaria are in vain. This will not happen.
[Russian] bases is a separate issue. I constantly raise the issue of
bases at all levels. However, whatever forces they bring in, or take
out, let nobody have a hope that those forces will intervene in
Georgia’s domestic affairs. And may God forbid anyone to intervene [in
Georgia’s domestic affairs] without the Russian president’s
knowledge. They will receive such an answer that they will never be
able to stand on their feet again. We are no longer the Georgia of
1992. I do not advise [changes tack] – I am ready to stand in front of
any tank for Georgia.