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Moscow Criticizes Tbilisi On Peacekeepers

A session of the Russian Duma (file photo) (AFP) 17 February 2006 -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov today accused Tbilisi of staging provocations against Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia.

Ivanov's comments came after Georgian lawmakers on 15 February called for the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from Georgia's breakaway republic. Georgia accuses the peacekeepers of siding with the separatists.

Ivanov accused Tbilisi of seeking to oust the peacekeepers.

Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli said the pullout of the peacekeepers was not an aim in itself and reaffirmed his government's commitment to resolving the crisis peacefully.

He said Russian "misinterpretation" of the Georgian resolution had led to an increase in tensions.

Russia's lower house of parliament today unanimously adopted a resolution that said the Georgian parliament's vote threatened to seriously destabilize the situation in South Ossetia.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry today said that in the future, Russian peacekeepers will require visas to enter Georgia.

(ITAR-TASS, Interfax, Novosti-Gruziya,

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