Abashidze resigns, flies to Moscow

The leader of Adjaria, Aslan Abashidze, has resigned and flown to Moscow together with Igor Ivanov, the secretary of the Russian Defense Council. As reported by a Rosbalt correspondent, Abashidze supporters had gathered outside his residence during the night as he met with Ivanov. When shots were fired from the crowd, Abashidze emerged and announced that buses were approaching with armed men on board, and that in order to prevent bloodshed it should disperse. He promised to address journalists in the morning with an announcement. However, a few minutes later, when the streets had emptied, Abashidze and Ivanov got in a car and drove to the Batumi airport, where they boarded a plane for Moscow.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili arrived in Adjaria in the morning. 'Aslan has fled, Adjaria is free,' he declared. He said that 'this is the first case in a post-Soviet country that separatism has been averted. This is a memorable day in the history of Georgia, and the beginning of a new era in the life of the country.'

Saakashvili gave orders to take control of strategically vital installations in Adjaria and to prevent armed groups from operating on the republic's territory. He also thanked Russia for its active participation in the resolution of the crisis in Adjaria.

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