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Moscow expects Tbilisi to pave way for better relations

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TBILISI, January 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia seeks to improve relations with Georgia, and wants similar signals from its former Soviet ally, Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vyacheslav Kovelenko said on Wednesday.

Mikheil Saakashvili, whose victory with 52.21% of the vote in Saturday's polls was confirmed by the country's Central Election Commission on Wednesday, said earlier he would attempt to improve relations with Russia if reelected.

Commenting on Saakashvili's pledge, Kovalenko said: "In Russian society there are very warm attitudes toward Georgia, and Russia is seeking to normalize relations and friendship. Russia expects Georgia to make a specific step, actions that could be regarded as a drive to normalize relations."

Echoing the diplomat's comments, Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili said he hoped relations between the two countries could be reviewed and improved with the assistance of the reelected Georgian president and Russia's newly elected parliament and future president.

The Georgian minister said he had always wanted better relations with Russia, but criticized Moscow for lacking political will.

Saakashvili accused Russia on November 7 of being behind opposition protests in Tbilisi. Georgian authorities have also said that Russian peacekeepers have breached their mandate in the South Caucasus country's conflict zones, and that Russian planes have violated Georgian airspace. Russia has denied all the accusations.

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