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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 January 2006, 22:10 GMT
Georgia cuts Russian embassy gas
Children warming their hands on a gas cooker
Many Georgians are relying on bottled gas to try to stay warm
Georgia has cut off gas supplies to the Russian embassy in the country, after blaming Moscow for its energy crisis during freezing weather.

The mayor of the capital, Tbilisi, said it was more urgent to heat homes than buildings used by those taking part in an "energy blockade" on Georgia.

Many Georgians have been without gas or electricity after blasts wrecked a pipeline from Russia.

Moscow said supplies were now repaired and services would resume on Sunday.

The BBC's Natalia Antelava in Tbilisi says much of Georgia is in darkness.

The crisis comes during the coldest winter for decades, with temperatures of -20C.

My kids are freezing and my patience is running out
Lia Davitashvili

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili described the unexplained loss of the gas pipeline last Sunday as a planned act of sabotage by the Russian officials.

He said it was time for Georgia and the rest of Europe to look for alternative energy supplies.

Officials have already struck a deal with Iran to provide gas to ease the crisis, but Iranian gas is not expected to reach Georgia until Sunday night at the earliest.

The Kremlin said Mr Saakashvili's statements were outrageous and denied foot-dragging over the repairs to the pipeline.

Many Georgians have been trying to keep warm around makeshift wood-burning stoves, or queuing for hours to buy kerosene or bottled gas.

'Tense relationship'

"My kids are freezing and my patience is running out," Lia Davitashvili, a Tbilisi resident who has been without gas for a week and electricity for three days, told Reuters news agency.

Chechen rebels have been blamed for previous damage to pipelines.

But our correspondent says many of Mr Saakashvili's countrymen agree with him.

She says it is widely believed that Russia is simply punishing Georgia for its pro-Western course and its desire to join Nato and rid itself of the Russian military presence.

Georgian officials have promised that the energy crisis will soon be over, but our correspondent says the real challenge will be to fix the damage the crisis has done to Georgia's already tense relationship with Russia.


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