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Georgia Criticizes Russia for Lifting Trade Restrictions on Abkhazia


Georgia has criticized Russia for lifting trade and financial sanctions on the Georgian separatist region of Abkhazia, which is seeking recognition as an independent country.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Friday, saying Moscow's action is an attempt to infringe on Georgia's "sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Russia announced its decision Thursday, saying it no longer considers itself bound by the terms of a 1996 sanctions pact approved by the Commonwealth of Independent States - a regional grouping of former Soviet republics.

That move followed intense Russian diplomatic efforts to prevent Western recognition of Kosovo's independence from Serbia. Moscow and others have warned that an independent Kosovo could fuel separatist movements elsewhere in Europe and beyond.

But Russia insisted that lifting sanctions on Abkhazia had nothing to do with Western support for Kosovo's independence.

A second Georgian breakaway region, South Ossetia, appealed Wednesday for similar recognition, using Kosovo as a precedent.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia in the early 1990s, sparking armed conflicts. No country has recognized their independence, and Georgia still claims sovereignty over both regions.

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

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