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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 September 2006, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Russia-Georgia tensions rise
By Emma Simpson
BBC News, Moscow

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili
Mr Saakashvili has accused Russia of economic warfare
Ties between Russia and Georgia have deteriorated over the last two years following the Rose Revolution which swept Mikhail Saakashvili to power.

President Saakashvili, a close US ally, pledged to rebuild his country and move it closer to the West, much to the annoyance of Russia.

But he has two outstanding conflicts that he wants to resolve, bringing two breakaway regions back into the fold.

He has accused Russia of supporting the regions to undermine his government.

This is an allegation that Moscow denies.

Bitter exchanges

South Ossetia and Abkhazia both declared independence in the last days of the Soviet Union.

map

Russia brokered ceasefires and has had peacekeepers in both regions ever since.

Residents have been issued with Russian passports and Russian businesses are moving in.

Tensions increased after the Georgian parliament accused Russia of trying to annexe the regions, an accusation Mr Saakashvili repeated just last week at the UN.

There have been months of bitter exchanges.

When a series of mysterious explosions disrupted gas supplies and left thousands of Georgians shivering for several days last winter, Mr Saakashvili accused Russia of sabotage.

In March, Russia banned imports of Georgian wine and mineral water, both among the country's biggest export earners, apparently over public health concerns. Tbilisi accused Moscow of economic warfare.

There is little love lost between the countries' two presidents either. Mikhail Saakashvili is an impulsive leader; President Putin appears reluctant to relinquish Russia's grip on its neighbour.

This spy row will simply add to the growing tensions.


SEE ALSO
'Coup plotters' held in Georgia
06 Sep 06 |  Europe
Timeline: Georgia
06 Sep 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Georgia
06 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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