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Georgian Activists Warned Not To Patrol Contact Lines With Breakaway Regions

TBILISI -- Georgia’s Interior Ministry has urged an activist group not to patrol the "contact lines" separating government-held territory from land controlled by Russia-backed separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Ministry representatives met with members of the Power In Unity movement on July 25 and advised them not to go ahead with plans for civilian patrols, citing the risk of undesirable consequences.

Power In Unity earlier announced plans to begin patrols in order to "protect local residents" in areas close to separatist-held territory.

Ministry officials said that a European Union Monitoring Mission and Interior Ministry units are patrolling the areas and that unauthorized patrols could be considered illegal.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries after fighting a five-day war against Tbilisi in 2008 and maintains thousands of troops in the two regions.

The United States and all but a handful of countries consider the breakaway regions to be parts of Georgia.

Georgian authorities have accused Russia and the separatists of taking control of additional territory in recent months.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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