The leader of Adjaria, Aslan Abashidze, does not agree with Georgian President Michael Saakashvili's appraisal of him as a narco-baron and a criminal. In an interview with the television station Adjaria, Abashidze said that various Russian, American and British organizations had more than once decorated him for his fight against drug addiction, and had even named him a 'hero in the fight against drugs.'
Abashidze said that he does not remember anyone ever mentioning Saakashvili's role in the fight against that scourge. In fact, he said, he was personally aware of several people in Saakashvili's entourage who were 'stoned on drugs.'
The head of Adjaria also categorically denied reports that narcotics traffic crosses the republic. 'In order for narcotics to reach Adjarian territory from Central Asia, it first has to travel 500 kilometers across the rest of Georgia,' he said. He said that the 'epicenter of this tragedy' lies in Tbilisi, which has traditionally had an interest in increasing drug addiction and narco-business.
Abashidze said that Tbilisi had at one time prevented the installation on the Georgian-Turkish border at Sarpu of equipment which would have made drug trafficking much more difficult. 'Everyone knows that Adjaria is the most dangerous region for narco-business,' he said.
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