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Georgian leader demands Russia review aid for breakaway regions

Georgia's president demanded Thursday that Russia revise its measures to support the unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying the measures violate Georgia's sovereignty.
TBILISI, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's president demanded Thursday that Russia revise its measures to support the unrecognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying the measures violate Georgia's sovereignty.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday the president had instructed that measures be drawn up to provide support for the population in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that Tbilisi is seeking to regain control of. The two republics proclaimed independence following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

"We are waiting and demand that the Russian Federation revise all decisions made to violate Georgia's sovereignty. Our efforts will be aimed at mobilizing the international community. We need serious action, not only words from our partners in the next days and weeks," Mikheil Saakashvili told a Cabinet session.

Saakashvili instructed government officials to move over to active foreign diplomacy to find a response to Moscow's actions.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry appealed to the international community on Thursday to block what it sees as Russia's attempts to annex the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"Russia has made another very dangerous step, aimed at de facto annexing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are internationally recognized as an integral part of Georgia," the ministry said in a statement.

"The Georgian Foreign Ministry calls on the UN, EU, OSCE, NATO, UN Secretary General's 'Group of Friends' on Georgia, the CIS and the whole international community to employ all their efforts to stop the process of infringing on Georgia's state integrity, initiated by Russia," the statement said.

Yelena Tevdoradze, a member of the Georgian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said Thursday the PACE rapporteur on Georgia has drafted a special declaration on the issue.

The ministry said Russia is trying to "justify its actions" by saying that it "cares about the population in these regions and the interests of Russian citizens," adding: "This attempt is very much like the events of the 1930s, when totalitarian regimes guided by similar motives occupied sovereign states."

The Russian presidential order to aid the breakaway regions was included in Vladimir Putin's "instructions to the government concerning Russia's relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia," the Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier in a statement, and follow Russia's move lifting trade restrictions in the two breakaway republics.

The Russian ministry also said Russia would provide consular services for Abkhazians and South Ossetians, many of whom are Russian passport holders, in Russia's southern Krasnodar Territory and North Ossetia, but added, however, that in developing relations with Georgia's breakaway republics, Moscow did not want confrontation with Tbilisi.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry also said Thursday that Russia's plans to provide consular services to the two republics violated the 1963 Convention on Consular Relations.

Saakashvili instructed the Georgian government on Saturday to work out a plan for the implementation of his initiatives aimed at granting Abkhazia broad autonomy and establishing a free economic zone in the separatist province, but Abkhazia once again rejected the offer.

Saakashvili first offered Abkhazia unlimited autonomy and the post of a vice-premier for the Abkhaz leader in his March 28 speech, which was rejected by the Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh.

Ex-Soviet breakaway regions have stepped up their drive for independence since Kosovo's declaration of independence in February. Abkhazia and South Ossetia, along with Moldova's Transdnestr, have since asked Russia's parliament, the UN and other organizations to recognize their independence.

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