Louisa Gouliamaki, Getty Images
A man walks past destroyed equipment left by the Russian army at the Senaki Georgian airbase. On Saturday, Russian forces were still deployed in Georgia.

POTI, Georgia — Thousands of Georgians demanded that Russian troops leave the outskirts of this strategic Black Sea port on Saturday and took to the streets in protest, while a top Russian general said his country's forces would keep patrolling the area.

The comments by deputy head of the general staff Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, reported by Russian news agencies, showed that despite protests from the United States, France and Britain, Russia was confident enough to occupy whatever part of Georgia it deemed necessary.

"Russian military: You are not a liberating military, you are an occupying force!" one man shouted at the Poti protest. Banners read "Say No to War" and "Russia go home."

On Friday, Russia said it had pulled back forces from Georgia in accordance with a EU-brokered cease-fire agreement.

"There are very specific requirements for Russian withdrawal. Putting up permanent facilities and checkpoints are inconsistent with the agreement. We are in contact with the various parties to obtain clarification," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said he had pressed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during a phone conversation Saturday to quickly remove Russian troops from an axis between the Georgian towns of Poti and Senaki.

Russia's pullback on Friday came two weeks to the day after thousands of Russian soldiers roared into the former Soviet republic following an assault by Georgian forces on the separatist region of South Ossetia. The fighting left hundreds dead and nearly 160,000 people homeless.

It also has deeply strained relations between Moscow and the West. Russia has frozen its military cooperation with NATO, Moscow's Cold War foe, underscoring a growing division in Europe.

The Russian tanks and troops are now gone from Gori — but other Russian troops are just up the road at a new Russian checkpoint. On Saturday afternoon, several thousand protesters waving Georgian flags approached the Russian position on the outskirts of Gori. Some soldiers came out of their trenches, but there was no clash.

Russian troops also held positions in trenches they had dug near a bridge that provides the only access to Poti. Tanks and armored personnel carriers were parked nearby.

Russia interprets the cease-fire accord as allowing it to keep a substantial military presence in Georgia because of earlier peacekeeping agreements that ended fighting in the separatist areas of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the 1990s.

But even though Poti is completely outside the buffer zone for Abkhazia, Nogovitsyn said Russian troops are not leaving and will patrol the city.