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Armenian nationalists and members of the Russian parliament are up in arms about Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian's awarding of the country's Medal of Honor to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili last week.

Valeri Bogomolov, a member of the Russian State Duma's Foreign Relations Committee, called the award "very controversial." He said countries are free to honor whomever they want, but "it is important to understand that you can't spit into a well from which you will need to drink on more than one occasion," Regnum news reports.

Another senior Duma member, Viktor Ilyukhin, denounced the decision, calling it "unfriendly towards Russia."

Saakashvili received the medal at the start of his two-day official visit to Yerevan on June 24. Sarkisian's office cited his contribution to "strengthening the centuries-old Georgian-Armenian friendship" in bestowing it on him.

Armenian nationalist activists accuse the Saakashvili government of deliberately neglecting the socioeconomic woes of Georgia's Javakheti region and violating the rights of its predominantly ethnic-Armenian population.

Last week, dozens of nationalists gathered to protest the award outside Saakashvili's hotel but were dispersed by the police.

Countries in the Caucasus have to be careful choosing their friends. Iran has just recalled its envoy to Azerbaijan, after Israeli President Shimon Peres paid Baku a visit.

-- Armenian Service

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