First Russian Forces to Vacate Georgia Saturday

TBLISI (Noyan Tapan)–The first of Russian military units vacating Georgian will be on its way Saturday–announced the commander of Russian forces in South Caucasus Lt. Gen. Vladimir Andreyev–adding that the first ship loaded with military cargo will depart Batumi Saturday.

According to the Russian military leader–plans for the pull-out of forces from Georgia have been communicated to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Meanwhile–David Darchavili–chairman of Georgia’s national security–military and civil issues research center announced that instability in Javakhk and issues confronting Georgia will delay the pull out of Russian forces from Akhalkalak. The scheduled pullout was to take place from 2003 to 2004.

Last year’s OSCE summit in Istanbul–mandated Russia to pull out the first of its forces from the Vaziani and Goudaouta by July first–following which talks would begin on the withdrawal of forces from Javakhk and Batumi.

The predominant Armenian population of the southern Georgian city of Akhalkalaki disagree with the decision on withdrawal of a Russian military base located there.

The citizens are against the withdrawal for one simple reason. About 1,200 of them work at the base with comparatively high wages. About 15 percent of the city is employed on the base and they believe that the withdrawal will cut off their only income source.

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