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Georgia's suit at European Court unfriendly - Russian ministry

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Georgia's suit with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over the deportation of Georgians from Russia last fall is an unfriendly act harmful for bilateral relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
MOSCOW, March 27 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's suit with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over the deportation of Georgians from Russia last fall is an unfriendly act harmful for bilateral relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

Georgia's Ministry of Justice announced Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against Russia for numerous alleged violations of human rights during a mass deportation of ethnic Georgians from Russia when the two former Soviet allies became caught up in an intense diplomatic row.

"The Georgian side must understand that another unfriendly act it has carried out is bad news for bilateral relations," the ministry's statement on its Web site said.

The arrest of four Russian officers in Tbilisi on spying charges last September prompted Russia to deport hundreds of Georgians, cut off mail and transport links with Tbilisi as well as crack down on allegedly illegal Georgian businesses.

According to unofficial information, the Georgian side will present evidence of deported citizens who allegedly suffered from inhumane treatment at Moscow's police detention centers, as well as documents proving that their stays in Russia were legal.

"The Russian side has repeatedly clarified the issue and consistently refuted the accusations, including in public and at the summit level," the ministry said.

Relations between Georgia and Russia have been strained ever since the pro-Western government of President Mikheil Saakashvili came to power in 2003.

In addition to tensions over the Russia-leaning breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Saakashvili has pledged to restore to Georgia proper, Georgia's ambition to join the Western NATO military alliance has been sharply criticized by Russia.

"The goals of this propaganda fuss that Tbilisi has made about this hardly acute issue were clear from the very beginning, namely to win foreign support of its anti-Russian political line and of its irresponsible line towards conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia through anti-Russian 'horror stories'," the ministry said.

The ministry said Georgia had opted for a demonstrative lawsuit of one state against another, which is rare in the practice of the European Court, in order to maximally politicize and exacerbate the problem when it should have used other, more quiet and non-confrontational methods, such as dialogue with Russian authorities to improve bilateral relations.

Last March, Russia banned Georgian wine and mineral water, dealing a heavy blow to the ex-Soviet republic's fragile economy.

Following the spying row, the situation deteriorated further when Tbilisi subsequently threatened to withdraw its support for Russia's WTO bid.

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