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Saakashvili hails victory as rebel governor leaves Georgia

Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s president, celebrated his victory yesterday over the rebel governor of the breakaway province of Adjara, calling it the “first step” towards a united Georgia. But his officials emphasised that progress towards integrating two other separatist region – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – would be slow and would take into account the views of Russia, Georgia’s big northern neighbour. Mr Saakashvili and a group of high-ranking Georgian officials flew to Batumi, Adjara’s capital, only hours after Adjara’s former governor, Aslan Abashidze, left the country on a late-night flight to Moscow with the Russian envoy Igor Ivanov. “I congratulate everyone on this victory, on the beginning of Georgia’s unification. Georgia will be united,” Mr Saakashvili said at a press conference announcing Mr Abashidze’s departure and the return of central control over Adjara for the first time since the early 1990s.Full Story

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