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Putin Appeals to OSCE After Russia Deports Nearly 150 Georgians


Russia President Vladimir Putin has urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to push for changes in what he calls Georgia's aggressive behavior.

In a letter sent Friday, Mr. Putin accused the government in Tbilisi of preparing to use force in the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The letter followed Russia's deportation of nearly 150 Georgians in a growing dispute over allegations of Russian spying on its southern neighbor.

Georgia had detained four Russian military officers in Tbilisi, but released them to the OSCE on Monday. Since then, Moscow has launched a series of sanctions such as blocking transport and postal links to Georgia.

The deportees were flown on a Russian plane from Moscow to Tbilisi Friday. Another Russian plane flew at least 175 Russians home from Georgia.

Officials in Moscow said Friday that they were ordered to make lists of students with Georgian names in an effort to track illegal immigrants. Police denied giving the order. Georgian owned businesses in Russia have also been closed down.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has criticized such measures as a "wave of xenophobia" that should worry all nations.

Tensions between the two countries were already high over Georgia's allegations that Moscow is backing pro-Russian separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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