08/25/2008, 00.00
RUSSIA – GEORGIA
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Russian parliament set to vote support for status of Georgian separatist provinces

Senate has unanimously approved independence proposal for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, results from Duma still to come. The vote is non binding for Kremlin decisions, as relations with the West precipitate.

Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) –Russia's parliament is meeting for extraordinary sessions today to debate recognising the independence of Georgia's two breakaway provinces.  A vote by parliamentarians in the Duma and Federation Council on the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia would not however be binding on the Kremlin.  In leaked information it appears that the Senate (Federation Council) has unanimously voted in favour of the proposal, while the results of the Duma are still awaited.

A vote in favour of the provinces’ independence could provide President Dmitry Medvedev with bargaining chips in talks with the West. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have had “de facto independence” since breaking away in the early 1990s: they can count on Russian economic and diplomatic support, as well as its military protection, but at the time the statute of autonomous nation was not recognised by any foreign State.

Both houses of the Russian parliament are dominated by allies of President Medvedev and his Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, the real leader of the Kremlin; according to Russian politician Sergei Mironov, members were ready to recognise Abkhazia's and South Ossetia's independence "if the people of these regions wish and if there is an appropriate decision by the Russian president”. It was not clear of there would be actual votes on recognition or whether parliamentary business includes a proposal to set up a special joint committee to investigate alleged Georgian abuses in South Ossetia.  

Russia's official line at least until now has been similar to that of the West regarding the official status of the two provinces, but in March the lower chamber of parliament (the State Duma) passed a resolution supporting independence should ex-ally Georgia invade or rush to join NATO.

Many analysts say the two new aspirant nations could end up like the Serbian breakaway province of Kosovo, whose autonomy provoked a tense standoff between Russia and America. It cannot be excluded either, that the Kremlin’s open support of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is their “reply” to the United States – who supported Kosovo independence – and its increasing influence among former Soviet bloc nations.  In short, trial ruins of a new updated version of the “cold war” which signed 20th century history.   Alternatively other experts compare the situation to the case of northern Cyprus and Turkey (the only Nation to recognise its independence).  The two provinces could become largely isolated and recognised only by Russia. . There is no doubt however that the future of the Caucuses depends largely from Russian manoeuvring and Moscow’s influence on the international stage.

 

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