Kremlin urged to recognise Georgia’s breakaway states

Russia’s lower house of parliament is recommending that the government recognises Georgia’s breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Duma deputies are calling on the president and the government to protect the citizens living in these areas.

Aleksey Ostrovsky from the State Duma CIS Affairs Committee says Georgia's plans to join NATO may force Moscow to take immediate action.

“No doubt when Georgia joins NATO, it'll be much more difficult to recognise the independence of two breakaway regions which de-facto can be called republics. Nonetheless, I think the Russian government will take certain steps to speed up this process. The recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia may not happen in the short term, but it won't take too long,” Ostrovsky said.

Abkhazia is a self-proclaimed republic that until 1992 was a part of the Soviet Republic of Georgia. After Abkhazia's parliament declared independence, Tbilisi sent troops to the region, sparking a violent conflict. But the Abkhazians prevailed, forcing more than 300,000 Georgians to leave their homes.

Russian peacekeepers together with UN observers separated the warring sides. Fifteen years after the conflict, these forces still control the border between Georgia and its breakaway republic.

In 1999 the majority of Abkhazians voted for their republic's independence. However, neither Russia, Georgia, nor any other country recognises Abkhazia.

Eighty-six per cent of Abkhazians have applied for Russian citizenship. Under Russian law, most of them are considered to be legal voters, so they take part in presidential and parliamentary elections. Now it seems that the voice of these people has been heard in Moscow.