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  Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Georgia's president is moving to gradually restore ties with Russia after
Georgia's president is moving to gradually restore ties with Russia after it was denied access to the NATO membership action plan, a Russian daily said on Tuesday citing a mediator.

Kommersant said the head of the ethnic Georgians' union in Russia, who had met with Mikheil Saakashvili to discuss difficulties facing Georgians living in Russia in the absence of diplomatic ties, was one of the mediators being used by the president.

Mikhail Khubutiya told the paper Saakashvili seemed to be willing to resume contacts with Moscow: "I think he is disappointed with failure to obtain a NATO membership program for Georgia and secure Europe's support. He seems to have realized there is a need for dialogue with Russia.

"Russia must be wiser and help him. The process is under way. We will see what will come out of this," he said declining to say whether he was authorized to hold the talks on Russia's behalf as well.

The Georgian president's press service has not commented on the statement, Kommersant said.

Georgia and Russia, which fought a brief war in August after Georgian troops attempted to forcefully regain control of breakaway South Ossetia, maintain no diplomatic ties at the moment. Moscow recognized South Ossetia and the other breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent states after the conflict.

Russian officials have repeatedly said since the August conflict that Russian-Georgian relations have no future as long as Saakashvili is in power. Some analysts suggested Georgia's Western allies had also become disappointed with Saakashvili and were seeking to replace him.

In Georgia, opposition groups and the president's former ally and parliament speaker, Nino Burdzhanadze, who is seen as a leading candidate for president, have repeatedly called for early presidential polls.

Saakashvili tainted his image as a democratic leader with the war and a violent crackdown on opposition protests in 2007.

The president ruled out last week holding presidential elections next year, saying this would have been too costly given the ongoing financial crisis.


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