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    Abkhazia set to ask Russia to recognize its independence

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    Abkhazia intends to ask Russia to recognize its sovereignty, the president of the de facto independent Georgian republic said on Monday.

    MOSCOW, February 18 (RIA Novosti) - Abkhazia intends to ask Russia to recognize its sovereignty, the president of the de facto independent Georgian republic said on Monday.

    Asked whether Abkhazia intended to address Russia on the issue of independence in the wake of Kosovo's unilateral declaration of sovereignty on Sunday, Sergei Bagapsh told journalists: "Yes, we do."

    Both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another Georgian breakaway republic, declared their independence from Georgia in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and bloody conflicts ensued. Georgia's current leadership has been seeking to recover its influence in the separatist regions and secure international support on the issue.

    Both republics have expressed a strong desire to join Russia, and Moscow had hinted even before Kosovo's declaration of independence on Sunday that it may recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

    "The declaration of sovereignty by Kosovo and its recognition will undoubtedly be taken into account in [Russia's] relations with Abkhazia and South Ossetia," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement last week.

    South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity, also on a visit to Moscow, told reporters that the two republics would hold talks with other unrecognized entities on efforts to seek independence.

    Kokoity said his republic would like to seek independence through Russia's Constitutional Court.

    "Two years ago we declared our intention to apply to the Russian Constitutional Court. We have a document on a united Ossetia voluntarily joining the Russian Empire in 1774," he said, adding that there were no documents in existence that confirmed the withdrawal of Ossetia from Russia.

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