Abkhazia rallies for independence

The Abkhazian Parliament has approved an official appeal to Russia to recognise its independence. Political parties and social organisations in the breakaway republic are holding a massive rally in the capital Sukhumi to support the government.

It is a regional tradition to hold mass rallies to decide issues of national importance. There are an estimated 47,000 Abkhazians in attendance, and they've been joined by citizens of neighbouring Russian republics and Georgia's other unrecognised republic of South Ossetia.

South Ossetia is also planning to hold a rally. According to the breakaway republic's President, some refugees who fled the region will return to take part in the event.

On Wednesday the Abkhazian President Sergey Bagapsh appealed to Russia and to the governments of other countries to recognise Abkhazia's independence. Bagapsh, speaking during a parliament session, said that now, a week after Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia, is the best time for both Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's recognition.

All the deputies who took part at the session agreed that the Abkhazians as well as South Ossetians can not live together with the Georgians in one state.

In 1999 there was a referendum held in the breakaway republic on its future status, and 97.7 per cent of the voters supported the idea of independence.

Earlier the Russian Presdient Dmitry Medvedev offered his support to the two breakaway republics.

“We will support any decision on the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia made by their people in accordance with the UN Charter and other international conventions. We will not only support such decisions, we will guarantee their enforcement,” Medvedev said last week.

Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia fought wars of independence with Georgia in the early 90s – and won de facto sovereignty. But the roots of the conflict between Georgia and its breakaway regions can be traced back much further.