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Russian parliament backs independence for Georgia separatists

Russian lawmakers voted Monday to recognise the independence of two breakaway Georgian regions as the European Union European Union (EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the

European Community
 signalled its mounting opposition to Russia's actions by calling a special summit on the conflict.

With Russian troops still inside Georgia and tensions heightened by the arrival in a Georgian port of a US warship warship, any ship built or armed for naval combat. The forerunners of the modern warship were the men-of-war of the 18th and early 19th cent., such as the ship of the line, frigate, corvette, sloop of war (see sloop), brig, and cutter.  carrying aid, Russia's upper house, the Federation Council, unanimously approved a resolution calling on President Dmitry Medvedev Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev (Russian: Дмитрий Анатольевич Медведев; born September 14, 1965 in Leningrad), is a Russian  formally to recognise South Ossetia South Ossetia: see Ossetia.  and Abkhazia as independent from Georgia.

The lower house, the State Duma The State Duma (Russian: Государственная дума , was expected to vote similarly later Monday.

The two regions are internationally recognised as part of Georgia, where Russian troops rolled in on August 8 to fight off a Georgian offensive to retake re·take  
tr.v. re·took , re·tak·en , re·tak·ing, re·takes
1. To take back or again.

2. To recapture.

3. To photograph, film, or record again.

 South Ossetia.

Addressing the Federation Council, South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity Eduard Dzhabeyevich Kokoity (Ossetian Кокойты Джабейы фырт Эдуард, Russian  said Russia had saved his region from "genocide."

He asserted there was more political and legal legitimacy to recognising South Ossetia's independence than there had been for Kososo, the Serbian province which broke free with EU and US backing.

The Abkhaz separatist leader, Sergei Bagapsh Sergei Vasilyevich Bagapsh (Abkhaz: Сергеи Багаҧшь  , said: "Neither Abkhazia nor South Ossetia will ever again live in one state with Georgia."

The appeal approved by the upper house was not binding and any final decision on Russian recognition rests with Medvedev.

The Russian president has signalled his support for independence, saying earlier this month that he would "make the decision which unambiguously supports the will of these two Caucasus peoples."

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Mikheil Saakashvili (Georgian: მიხეილ სააკაშვილი) (born December 21, 1967) is a Georgian politician and the current President of Georgia.  warned Russia's recognition of the two regions would have "disastrous results." In an interview with the French daily Liberation published Monday, he said such a move by Russia would amount to "an attempt to change Europe's borders by force."

Experts said Mevedev's next move was unclear.

"Right after the conflict with Georgia, Russia would look very indecent if it immediately annexed South Ossetia and Abkhazia," said Yevgeny Volk, of the US-based Heritage Foundation.

"Russia will be perfectly content if they are pseudo-independent states," Volk added, drawing a parallel with Northern Cyprus, which is only recognised by Turkey.

Moscow's move to recognise South Ossetia and Abkhazia was seen as payback for the West's recognition of Kosovo this year despite vehement Russian objections.

The European Union signalled growing impatience with Russia when French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a special European summit on the Georgia crisis on September 1.

Sarkozy has asked Russia to pull out its troops from western Georgia in line with a six-point ceasefire plan he brokered between Russia and Georgia to end the conflict.

Russia withdrew tanks, artillery and hundreds of troops from their most advanced positions in Georgia on Friday, saying it had fulfilled all obligations under the agreement.

But Russian troops still control access to the port city of Poti, south of Abkhazia, and have established other checkpoints around South Ossetia.

Russia and the West interpret the six-point plan differently, with Russia claiming it has the right to leave "peacekeepers" deep inside Georgia in a buffer zone.

Moscow has backed the separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since their break with Tbilisi in the early 1990s but had stopped short of declaring them independent from Georgia.

A US Navy destroyer carrying relief supplies arrived at a Black Sea port in Georgia on Sunday in a sign of support for Georgia, which has been campaigning to join NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
 in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization

International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion.
 and sent its US-trained troops to Iraq.

1. United States Senate

2. United States ship

USS abbr (= United States Ship) → Namensteil von Schiffen der Kriegsmarine
 McFaul dropped anchor off Batumi, 50 kilometres south of the Russian-occupied port of Poti, the first of three ships carrying aid to help Georgia deal with an estimated 100,000 displaced people.

A US coastguard ship passed through the Turkish straits on Sunday en route for Georgia while the USS Mount Whitney, flagship of the US Mediterranean Sixth Fleet was to set sail (Naut.) to unfurl or spread the sails; hence, to begin a voyage.

See also: Sail
 for the Black Sea at the end of the month.

A top Russian general on Saturday accused NATO countries of using humanitarian aid as "cover" for a build-up of naval forces in the Black Sea.

Russian troops poured into South Ossetia on August 8 to repel a Georgian attempt to regain control of the breakaway region.

After smashing Georgian military forces in South Ossetia Russian troops then pushed deep into Georgia, including through Abkhazia.
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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Aug 24, 2008
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