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Separatist Leaders Reiterate Opposition To Georgian Unification

South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) October 21, 2006 -- Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh and South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity today reiterated their opposition to unification with Georgia.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has said he will not allow the two breakaway regions to secede, saying they are part of Georgia.

Interfax quotes Kokoity as saying his region's history as part of Georgia is one of "our people being threatened with genocide."

Bagapsh says Abkhazia "can never live with a single state." Abkhazia earlier this week sent an appeal to the Russian parliament asking for recognition as an independent country.

Bagapsh said he supports comments made late on October 20 by Russian President Vladimir Putin that warned Georgia to ease off its disputes with Abkhazia and South Ossetia or risk bloodshed.

"The government of Georgia and the people of Georgia have no intention of using force against its citizens, as repeatedly stated," Georgian Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili said in response to Putin's remarks. "This is a pure fiction, and the Russian president knows this but chooses to presume that the international community is ignorant."

In an interview with AP today, Saakashvili "categorically" said Georgia would not start any military confrontation against the two regions.

(Interfax, AP)

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MORE: Coverage of the situation in Georgian from RFE/RL's Georgian Service and in Russian from RFE/RL's Russian Service.


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