Putin, in phone call to Tbilisi, praises Shevardnadze

Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated a telephone call Saturday night to Eduard Shevardnadze and expressed concern over events in Georgia since the parliamentary elections of November 2. According to the account given reporters by Kakha Imnadze, the Georgian president's press secretary, Shevardnadze told the Russian president that the elections had taken place and that there had been some problems with the voting. However, he said, the voting was very much more properly democratic than ever before. Putin, Imnadze said, commented on the Georgian president's turning up at a meeting organized by the opposition outside the parliament building: 'As always, you acted correctly and bravely,' the press secretary quoted Putin as saying.

Shortly thereafter, Shevardnadze met with Vladimir Chkhikvishvili, Russia's special plenipotentiary to Georgia. According to the Georgian State Chancellery, the meeting lasted about 90 minutes. After the meeting, Chkhikvishvili told reporters that Russia was worried by instability in Georgia. Should the situation go out of control, he said, negative effects would be felt throughout the region, not just in Georgia. He stressed the importance of no party to the dispute resorting to force and said the problem must be resolved peacefully by negotiation.

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