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    Russian expedition planted Abkhazia flag on Arctic seabed

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    MOSCOW/SUKHUMI, August 8 (RIA Novosti) - The flags Russia planted on the seabed under the North Pole included an Abkhazian flag, as the self-proclaimed republic of Georgia helped organize the expedition, the mission leader said Wednesday.

    "An Abkhazian representative, Dmitry Purim, was a member of our expedition," said Artur Chilingarov, also a Russian member of parliament. "He raised the flag of the republic."

    Russia's relations with Abkhazia have angered Georgian authorities who are seeking to regain control over the unrecognized republic. Georgia has accused Russia of fuelling separatist sentiments in Abkhazia.

    Chilingarov said tens of other flags representing different regions and organizations involved in the expedition had been hoisted in the area almost simultaneously.

    Last Thursday, Russian researchers made the first-ever dive below the North Pole in two mini-submarines, taking rock samples from the seabed to gather proof that Russia's continental shelf stretches out from Siberia into the Arctic across the Pole, and thereby claim the resource-rich territory.

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