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Thousands Rally For Abkhazia's Independence --> The demonstration in Sukhumi today (ITAR-TASS) December 6, 2006 -- Thousands of people today rallied in the Abkhaz capital Sukhumi calling on Russia and the international community to recognize the breakaway region's independence from Georgia.

Some 35,000 people reportedly took part in the rally, which also called for Abkhazia to join the Russian Federation.

Sergei Bagapsh, the self-declared Abkhaz president, told the rally Abkhazia and Georgia could not coexist within one state.

Meanwhile, Russia's lower house of parliament said in two separate statements endorsed today that Russian policy should take into account Abkhazia's demands for the recognition of its independence, as well as the results of South Ossetia's recent referendum on independence.

Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili had earlier warned that the Duma would commit a "very serious mistake" if it passed the resolutions.

(RIA Novosti, Interfax,, Rustavi 2)