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The Council of Europe's human rights chief, Thomas Hammarberg, will start
The Council of Europe's human rights chief, Thomas Hammarberg, will start a visit to Georgia and its breakaway republic of South Ossetia on Wednesday to assess the humanitarian situation following the August hostilities.

"The situation in which refugees are living will be the focus of the visit by the commissioner," an official at the Council of Europe secretariat said.

Hammarberg said: "This visit will focus on the effective measures which have been taken to protect detainees, prisoners of war and persons in hiding."

"I will also continue the dialogue with relevant authorities to assess the implementation of the six principles for urgent protection of human rights and humanitarian security which I proposed in my report after the first visit to the region in August."

The visit, which will continue until Friday, will include the Georgian cities of Tbilisi and Gori as well as South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali.

Meanwhile, Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis will pay a one-day visit to Moscow on Wednesday to discuss the aftermath of the August Georgia-Russia conflict, his spokesman said. Davis will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"Items to be discussed include the current state of relations between Russia and the Council of Europe, and possible action by the Council of Europe with regard to the consequences of the recent conflict in the Caucasus," the Council spokesman said.

Georgia launched an attack on South Ossetia on the night of August 7, sparking a five-day war with Russia. Russia then recognized South Ossetia, along with Georgia's other separatist republic of Abkhazia, as independent states.

Russia's recognition of the rebel republics drew criticism in Strasbourg, with some lawmakers calling to suspend the country's membership of the Council of Europe and reduce its participation in PACE.

Georgian-Russian relations were a focus of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe session last month, at which a resolution was adopted calling on Russia to annul its recognition of Georgia's breakaway regions.


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