Russia sign decrees to recognise S Ossetia, Abkhazia

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Moscow, Aug 26 (UNI) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today signed decrees to recognise the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

''I signed decrees on the recognition by the Russian Federation of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence,'' Mr Medvedev said in a nationally televised address.

He also called on other countries to follow suit.

''Russia calls on other states to follow its example,'' he said, adding, ''This is not an easy choice to make, but it represents the only possibility to save human lives.'' Mr Medvedev also blamed Georgia for provocating the situation around South Ossetia.

''It stands quite clear now -- a peaceful resolution of the conflict was not part of Tbilisi's plan,'' he said.

''The Georgian leadership was methodically preparing for war, while the political and material support provided by their foreign guardians only served to reinforce the perception of their own impunity,'' the President said.

Russia's recognition of Georgia's two breakaway regions comes following the unanimous approval of a resolution yesterday by the two Houses of Russian Parliament, calling on Mr Medvedev to recognise the independence of the regions.

Earlier, the leaders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia had requested Russia to recognise the independence of the regions.

The move would further worsen Russia's relations with the West, already strained over Moscow's response to Georgia's attack earlier this month to recapture South Ossetia.

US President George W Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Mr Medvedev against the move yesterday, urging him to respect Georgia's territorial integrity.

UNI XC SKB VC2006

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