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Georgian Parliament Urges Countries To Recognize Russia As Occupier

TBILISI -- Georgia's parliament has sent an appeal to more than 50 countries urging them to recognize Russia as an occupying force in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports.

The parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee sent the appeal to every European country's parliament as well as the legislative bodies of the United States, Canada, Israel, India, New Zealand, and several African countries.

Giorgi Kandelaki, the deputy head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told RFE/RL on April 9 that "we think this action will increase the Russian occupants' responsibility towards Georgia."

Kandelaki said the appeal was written by parliament members but also has the support of Georgia's executive branch.

But Archil Gegeshidze, of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, says that "leading countries might ignore the appeal as it could worsen their relations with Russia" and endanger the talks being held by Georgian, South Ossetian, and Russian officials in Geneva. "It will make countries feel uncomfortable...and [many will] avoid responding to the letter."

Russian forces have patrolled the de facto borders between the two breakaway regions and Georgia proper since Russian and Georgian forces fought a brief war in August 2008.

Russian, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and the Pacific island nation of Nauru have recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent countries.