Thursday, August 21, 2008


A big pro-independence rally is being held in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region and a similar rally is expected soon in war-ravaged South Ossetia.
Separatists in both regions are urging Russia and other countries to recognise them as independent from Georgia.
Russia says it is reviewing its co-operation with Nato, which has insisted that Moscow pull its troops out of Georgia, in line with a truce.
Nato said on Tuesday there could be no "business as usual" with Moscow.
At an emergency meeting, Nato suspended formal contacts with Russia because of the Russian military presence in Georgia.

See map of the region

"Relations with Nato will be reviewed," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency on Thursday.
"This will apply to the military co-operation programme," he said.
There is still no clear indication of a significant withdrawal of Russian military forces from Georgia, despite Moscow's promise to pull out most of its troops by the end of Friday.
Gen Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian military's general staff, reiterated on Thursday that "by the end of 22 August all the forces of the Russian Federation will be behind the line of our zone of responsibility".
But a BBC correspondent in the Georgian village of Igoeti, just 35km (21 miles) from the capital Tbilisi, says Russian troops there do not appear to be preparing to leave. Russian forces are also dug in around Georgia's main Black Sea port of Poti.
Co-operation stopped?
Russia poured troops into Georgia after Georgian forces tried to retake the breakaway South Ossetia region on 7 August. Russian-led peacekeeping troops had been deployed there since a war in the early 1990s.
The world-renowned conductor Valery Gergiyev - himself an Ossetian - plans to give a concert in South Ossetia with his St Petersburg orchestra on Thursday. The regional capital, Tskhinvali, where it will be held, was heavily damaged in the intense fighting.

No more use of force
Stop all military actions for good
Free access to humanitarian aid
Georgian troops return to their places of permanent deployment
Russian troops to return to pre-conflict positions
International talks about security in South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Georgia faces reality of defeat
Who started the crisis?
Nato's Russia dilemma
Georgia conflict: Key statements

Nato has accused Russia of failing to respect a French-brokered ceasefire plan requiring both Russian and Georgian forces to pull back to the positions they held before heavy fighting erupted in South Ossetia.
On Wednesday, Norway's defence ministry said Russia had informed Norwegian diplomats that it was planning to freeze co-operation with Nato.
Norway's Aftenposten newspaper said Oslo was trying to establish exactly what impact the Russian decision would have on existing co-operation, such as joint rescue operations and border controls. Norway shares a border with Russia in the Arctic.
A statement from the Norwegian defence ministry said: "Norway notes that Russia has decided that for now it is 'freezing' all military co-operation with Nato and allied countries.
"We expect that this will not affect planned activities in the areas of coastguard operations, search and rescue and resource management, because on the Russian side these are handled by civilian authorities."
Russia has not yet given Norway formal written notification about its suspension of co-operation, a ministry spokesperson said.

Russia's permanent envoy at Nato headquarters in Brussels, Dmitry Rogozin, has been recalled to Moscow for consultations, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reports.
He said that in light of Nato's position on the Georgia conflict, relations with Nato "really cannot remain as before," but he added that "there will not be a cold war".
A state secretary in Norway's defence ministry, Espen Barth Eide, said "there's no doubt that our relationship to Russia has now chilled".
On Tuesday, Nato Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said "there can be no business as usual with Russia under present circumstances".

Russian news agencies say an armoured column, consisting of more than 40 vehicles, has passed through South Ossetia, on its way to the Russian border.



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