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10:16 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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Russia rejects reports of new military base in rebel Abkhazia

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Russia's Defense Ministry on Sunday rejected reports that it had opened a new military base in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia.
MOSCOW, June 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Ministry on Sunday rejected reports that it had opened a new military base in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia.

Some media circulated reports on Sunday, citing the Abkhazian government in exile, that Russia had opened a new military base near the village of Agubedia of Abkhazia's Ochamchir district and deployed heavy armor there.

"The reports of a military base being established in Abkhazia are a new provocation," the ministry's press office said.

Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the subsequent hostilities. The two sides signed a ceasefire in 1994 in Moscow.

Peace talks between Abkhazia and Georgia broke off in July 2006 when Tbilisi sent troops into Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge and established an alternative Abkhaz administration there.

Late in May, around 300 Russian railroad troops arrived in the self-proclaimed republic as part of a Moscow humanitarian assistance initiative for Abkhazia. The deployment met a furious reaction from Georgia, which accused Moscow of preparing for military intervention.

Relations between Russia and its ex-Soviet ally have deteriorated greatly in recent years over Moscow's support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another separatist region in Georgia, and Tbilisi's drive for NATO membership.