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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 May, 2004, 19:45 GMT 20:45 UK
In pictures: Ajaria's 'velvet revolution'
A demonstration in Ajaria's capital, Batumi
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Thousands of people in the capital of Georgia's rebel region of Ajaria took to the streets, urging their leader, Aslan Abashidze, to resign and end a tense stand-off with Tbilisi.
Mr Abashidze's militiaman joins the supporters of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
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Ajaria's police joined the protestors, as Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili warned Mr Abashidze must quit to avoid bloodshed.
Rally in Batumi
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The protests later turned into celebration as demonstrators perceived signs that the regime of the local strongman was crumbling, correspondents said.
A demonstrator carries Georgia's red-and-white Georgian flag during a protest rally in Batumi
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Some even described the latest developments as Ajaria's own "velvet revolution" - similar to the events that led to the peaceful change of power in Georgia last year.
Armed local militias guard the office of Mr Abashidze in Batumi
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The situation in Batumi was tense, as Mr Abashidze still had the support of private militias.
Ajarian militias guard a destroyed bridge linking the province with the rest of Georgia
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Ajaria remains cut off from the rest of the country, after border bridges were blown up on Mr Abashidze's orders.



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