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Georgia's Parliament Urges Breaking Diplomatic Ties With Russia


Georgia's parliament is calling on the government to break diplomatic relations with Russia.VOA's Peter Heinlein reports from Tbilisi that the non-binding resolution was approved unanimously.

The text of the resolution passed late Thursday urges President Mikheil Saakashvili to declare Russian forces in Georgia "occupiers," and to cut all diplomatic ties with Moscow. All 106 lawmakers present voted in favor of the resolution.

After the vote, Member of Parliament David Darchiashvili of the ruling Unified National Movement called the measure largely symbolic, but said, "We cannot give any name to Russian troops other than 'occupation.'"

During a brief parliamentary debate before the vote, Defense and Security Committee Chairman Nicholas Rurua told lawmakers that "Russia is being ruled by former Soviet security service agents who consider the end of the Cold War as their defeat." He warned that if Russia does not stop what he called "its outrageous actions, it would lead to the disintegration of Russia itself."

Earlier, Rurua told VOA that diplomatic pressure has been effective in moderating Moscow's behavior.

"I think Western pressure already put on Russia has had its effect," he said. "It works and it will work because Russia depends on the West. It's not the Soviet Union that was self-sufficient."

A spokesman for President Saakashvili said he would have no comment on parliament's action. In an interview with the Reuters news agency on Wednesday, the Georgian leader brushed aside the question of breaking ties with Moscow, saying "I would not focus on bilateral relations right now."

Diplomats say a formal act of breaking relations would have little practical effect because all but two Georgian diplomats have already been called home, including the ambassador.

The parliamentary vote came hours after China and several Central Asian nations - the so-called "Shanghai Five" - rebuffed Russia's hopes of international support for its actions in Georgia.

This latest blow, on top of condemnation from the United States and Europe, has left Moscow diplomatically isolated. Georgian political analyst Archil Gegeshidze says even Russia's closest friends are keeping quiet.

"On the diplomatic language, this means Russia has failed," Gegeshidze said. "And so far, only the terroristic organization Hamas has supported Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Not a single state, not even Venezuela, Cuba, so far they have not said anything in this regard."

A Russian news agency Thursday reported that close ally Belarus might become the first country to join Moscow's recognition of Georgia's two breakaway regions.