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Georgia's president has called Russia's decision to lift sanctions from Georgia's
Georgia's president has called Russia's decision to lift sanctions from Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia illegal.

"This is an immoral and illegal decision. A most serious provocation aimed at destabilizing the situation in the Caucasus that will lead to an unpredictable development of events," Mikheil Saakashvili said.

Russia lifted trade, economic, financial and transport sanctions against Abkhazia Thursday, and urged other CIS countries to follow suit. The CIS is an alliance of former Soviet republics.

"We declare zero tolerance regarding Abkhazia's militarization. All responsibility for these actions will lie with the Russian leadership," Saakashvili said, adding that the sanctions first of all included a ban on bringing armaments, troops and foreign military instructors into the unrecognized republic.

The parliament of Abkhazia appealed Friday to the United Nations and Russia to recognize its independence, citing Kosovo as a precedent.

"The unrecognized republic has established itself as an independent, democratic state," the statement said, adding that the recognition of Kosovo by the U.S. and the majority of European countries in mid-February had irrevocably altered the geopolitical situation.

Abkhazia and another self-proclaimed republic, South Ossetia, with populations of about 200,000 and 100,000 respectively, were involved in bloody conflicts with Georgia after proclaiming independence following the split-up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Georgian Foreign Minister David Bakradze told Georgian media in Belgium that Tbilisi's official position on the issue will be announced at a special press conference to be held by Georgia's representative to the UN.

Georgia, which has sought to regain control over the separatist republics, called Russia's decision to lift economic sanctions against Abkhazia "a blunt attempt to violate its sovereignty and territorial integrity." It also threatened retaliatory measures to protect its interests. On Friday, it summoned the Russian ambassador to Georgia to register a protest over Moscow's actions.

Moscow has repeatedly said the recognition of Kosovo will set a precedent for other breakaway regions, including in the former Soviet Union. Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, is to discuss Abkhazia and South Ossetia on March 13.

Justifying its decision on Thursday, Russia cited "a change of circumstances" and blamed Georgia for a "non-constructive" policy toward Abkhazia. Moscow said preserving the sanctions no longer made sense and "is harmful for the region's socio-economic development."

Analysts said the Kremlin's decision to restore trade ties with Abkhazia was partially prompted by plans to use the neighboring Black Sea region's resources to build an Olympic infrastructure in the resort of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Games. Russia will also not now have to justify the acquisition of land and property in Abkhazia.

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