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The mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG)
The mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) is to be extended by four months, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

"The UN Security Council has come to an understanding that the mandate will be prolonged by four months, until February 15, 2009," Andrei Nesterenko said at a press conference.

UNOMIG observers monitor the situation in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone, including in the Kodori Gorge on Abkhaz territory. The mission, deployed in the conflict zone in 1993, is represented now by 103 observers from around two dozen countries.

The mandate is usually extended by six months or a year. The shorter extension could mean differences regarding the mission's future operation.

Nesterenko said the renewed mandate could focus on preventing clashes and provocations in areas adjacent to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

He also said the mission's name should be changed, replacing the word "Georgia" with the word "Abkhazia".

Russia launched a five-day military operation to "force Georgia to accept peace" after Georgian troops attacked breakaway South Ossetia on August 8, killing a number of Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians.

Russia's response to the Georgian attack was labeled "disproportionate" by a number of Western powers. On August 26, Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

The two republics broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s amid armed conflicts that claimed thousands of lives.

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