Russian forces in Transcaucasia have been ordered to stand clear of the confrontation between the government of Georgia and the political opposition. That word came Monday from Aleksandr Lutskevich, chief of the press service of the Russian Transcaucasus Army Group.
Rumors to the contrary, he said, Russian military bases in Georgia have not stepped up their level of readiness. 'The bases are functioning on the same level as before,' he asserted.
The leader of the radical opposition, Mikhail Saakashvili, has stated that the Russian military at bases in Akhalkalaki in sourthern Georgia and at Batumi in Adzharia plan to use military force against the opposition and in support of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze. These suspicions were heightened Sunday after Shevardnadze spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin and met personally with Vladimir Chkhikvishvili, Russia's special ambassador to Georgia. Shevardnadze traveled to Batumi today for a meeting with Aslan Abashidze, the head of the Adzhar Autonomous Republic.