Both Russian houses of parliament have backed Georgian separatists’ drive for independence. It is a big boost for breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia but a move that is set to worsen Moscow’s already tense ties with the West.
First the upper house, then the State Duma unanimously approved resolutions urging the Kremlin to recognize the rebel regions as independent states. It was music to the ears of the separatist leaders whose impassioned pleas had been answered.
Addressing parliament, self-styled Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh called for support in the name of the future of his people and those of South Ossetia and the stable development of the Caucasus.
“There is no other way for Abkhazia and South Ossetia. We will never go back to the past,” he said.
Also present, his South Ossetian counterpart Eduard Kokoity branded Tbilisi’s failed bid to retake the territory as a turning point.
“Through their insane violence, the Georgian authorities have hollowed out a bloody and bottomless pit between Georgia on the one side and South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other,” he said.
“Our two peoples are never, under any condition, going to live in the same state with Georgia.”
He thanked Russia for its military intervention in the crisis over South Ossetia. Like Abkhazia, it is regarded internationally as being part of Georgia.
Both enclaves have intensified efforts to have their self-declared independence recognized, notably with recent high-profile rallies.
The Kremlin opposed Kosovo’s decision to go it alone. Now President Dmitry Medvedev must decide whether Moscow will formally back two pro-Russian territories’ aspirations to do the same.