Georgia says Russia's accords with its former republics 'provocation'

TBILISI, May 1 (RIA Novosti) - The signing of border protection agreements by Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia is a regular provocation aimed at legitimizing the occupation of Georgia, the South Caucasus country's Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Russia signed Thursday joint border protection agreements with the two former Georgian republics. NATO said the documents were in a breach with earlier reached agreements and "not in the interests of long-term peace and security in the South Caucasus region."

"Georgia sharply criticizes the so called agreements signed by the Russian Federation and the representatives of the puppet regimes of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on April 30," the ministry said.

"In reality the 'agreements' are another attempt by Russia to increase its military potential on Georgia's occupied territory and legitimize the occupation," it said.

Under the agreements, Russia will guard the Abkhaz and South Ossetian borders, including maritime frontiers, until both republics form their own border guard services. The agreements, for an initial five years, can be renewed upon their expiration.

The sides also signed interdepartmental agreements on cooperation between the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the Abkhaz State Security Service and the South Ossetian Committee of State Security.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states after last August's five-day war with Georgia, which attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Most residents of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia had held Russian citizenship for several years.

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