Georgia withdraws membership from CIS

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Moscow, Aug 12 (UNI) Hours after Russia announced its decision to end military operation, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili declared that his country was withdrawing its membership from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose federation of 12 former Soviet republics, formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Saakashvili also appealed to other members to withdraw from the CIS.

''We have decided that Georgia will leave the CIS,'' he said at a rally in Tbilisi. ''We urge Ukraine and other countries also to quit the Commonwealth of Independent States, which is dominated by Russia,'' he added.

The Georgian President also denounced the peacekeeping agreements with Russia, and declared all Russian troops in Georgian territory as ''occupational forces invading Abkhazia and South Ossetia''.

He accused Russia of occupying half his country in a ''peace enforcement operation'' that ended today.

''As President of Georgia, I stand before you in very difficult circumstances... Yesterday I saw with my own eyes how we were bombed,'' Saakashvili said, adding Georgia will ''continue to stand firm'' against the Russian aggressors.

He said Georgia now considers Russian troops in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia's other rebel region, to be occupiers.

''We have taken the decision to declare Russian armed forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia occupying forces,'' he said.

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