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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 May, 2004, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Ajaria's 'revolution' - in quotes
Picture from Russian NTV Mir showing Saakashvili supporters in Batumi
All change in Batumi

As Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili ponders his next steps after the resignation of Aslan Abashidze in Ajaria, BBC Monitoring chronicles the turns in developments based on what key players told the media over 24 hours.

Abashidze resists

We have patience. We are guided by the interests of the state, the nation and the people. But there is a limit to everything. And hundreds of inebriated people do not have the right to commit excesses.

Ajarian separatist leader Aslan Abashidze condemning protesters urging him to step down in Batumi, 5 May

If someone has to resign, they should do so. No post, I repeat, no position we hold is worth the life of even a single person... Personal interests should be sacrificed to the country. The interests of the country should always be above personal interests.

Former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, 5 May

'Ajaria is free'

Georgians! Aslan has fled. Ajaria is free. I congratulate you all on this big victory. I congratulate Georgia on the start of its unification... We now need peace and calm. We need to start a new life. A new day is starting tomorrow, it is already starting, St George's Day. Georgia is victorious.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, 5 May

We are live on the air to declare our position and congratulate you again on freedom... We tried to produce reports, albeit falsified ones, live on the air. Now I believe that this will no longer be the case. I can assure you that Ajara TV will always speak the truth, will always do it courageously, and we will always support you, our loyal viewers. Thank you very for supporting us. We hope that you will stay with us in the future.

Ajara TV presenter less than an hour after Mr Abashidze's resignation, 5 May

I think Russian President Putin played a very constructive role today. Therefore it is thanks to him too that we have managed to avoid bloodshed and complications. It was an astonishing mini-revolution indeed. In fact it was a big revolution.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili on arrival in Ajaria, 6 May

Abashidze poses no threat. He may peacefully write his memoirs, as in the case of former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, in Tbilisi, or in Moscow, if that's what he wants. No-one's going to prosecute him and he too will be treated in an entirely civilized manner.

Georgian ambassador to Russia Konstantine Kemularia, 6 May

Immediately after the news of Abashidze's resignation, Saakashvili's supporters burst into the Ajarian leader's residence, smashed up his offices and burnt Abashidze's armchair.

Presenter, Russian NTV Mir, 6 May

Batumi under control

We are already setting up posts all around Batumi and the whole of the region to control all movements, to ensure that we are in control of the situation so as to prevent looting and other unexpected incidents.

Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze, 6 May

Well, at first, we were of course afraid there would be shooting. But those few - but very well armed - supporters of Abashidze who were still left saw the people's total support for the central authorities and were completely demoralised as a result. It took us a very long time to get here because at every house and at every village all the people were at the roadside, welcoming us and rejoicing. The people were rejoicing and celebrating the start of a new era.

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, after walking from border town of Kobuleti to Batumi, 6 May

This is fantastic, look at this. I have never walked down the [Batumi] boulevard so freely. Indeed, it is amazing how this man strangled this people, such hard-working people, such amiable and polite people, such open-minded people. There are no such people anywhere else in the world and look what they had to endure.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili walking along beach in Batumi, 6 May

Abkhazia next?

We must start negotiations, serious and peaceful negotiations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, about reuniting the country and settling problems which are not settled. We have proved in Ajaria that it is possible to act peacefully but resolutely. It is very important.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, 6 May

This means that Georgia will be strong and we will definitely get to [capital of breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia] Sukhumi. Exactly when? We shall see.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, 6 May

As for various statements by certain Georgian leaders that Abkhazia is next in line, the Georgian leadership has tried to impose order with an iron hand on Abkhazia three times over the last decade. All those attempts ended in a total failure for the Georgian leadership... Our relationship must be built on equal terms, on the basis of mutual recognition.

Foreign minister of rebel Georgian region of Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba, 6 May

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


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