Hundreds of protesters gathered Saturday outside Georgia's Black Sea
port of Poti, demanding the withdrawal of Russian forces from the city.
They chanted "Russians Go Home" to protest checkpoints set up by
Russian troops in armored personnel carriers. No direct confrontation
Moscow says it has fulfilled terms of a French-brokered peace deal with
Tbilisi. But, in addition to Poti, Russian troops continue to patrol
some key areas outside the so-called "security zones" where Russia
claims it has the right to station troops in Georgia.
Those areas include the aviation base at Senaki and parts of a major highway connecting Tbilisi with the Black Sea coast.
White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Saturday Russia would
violate the ceasefire agreement by setting up checkpoints or permanent
facilities in Georgia. Johndroe said the U.S. is seeking clarification
of Russia's activities in Georgia.
Russian General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said the continued presence of
Russian troops deep in Georgian territory is not breaking the
cease-fire that Moscow and Tbilisi signed earlier this month. He said
Georgia's special services are preparing further military action in
South Ossetia, and the Russian troops are in key positions to ensure
Nogovitsyn also objected to an increased presence of NATO ships in the
Black Sea. He said Russia could increase the size of its force in
Georgia if the United States begins to help Georgia rebuild its
NATO on Friday said its Black Sea deployment was planned long before
the outbreak of the Gergian conflict, and that the ships are there for
The U.S. military said the USS McFaul, which arrived in the Black Sea
on Friday from Greece, is carrying humanitarian aid for Georgia.
Another U.S. ship is to follow.
A Polish frigate also entered the Black Sea late Friday.
In Tbilisi Saturday, Georgian lawmakers voted unanimously to extend
emergency wartime powers for President Mikheil Saakashvili for another
The Georgian military move into South Ossetia earlier this month
triggered a massive Russian response, with Moscow sending scores of
tanks and thousands of troops into Georgia.