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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 October 2006, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
Georgia slams Russian 'cleansing'
Deportation flight returns to Tbilisi
About 130 Georgians were deported on Friday on a Russian cargo plane
Russia's treatment of Georgians during the diplomatic spat between the two countries is a "mild form of ethnic cleansing", Georgia has said.

"This is not only xenophobia," said Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili.

Russia has closed transport and postal links with Georgia, raided businesses, imposed visa restrictions and deported 132 Georgians since the dispute began.

The sanctions were imposed on the day Georgia released four Russian officers it had arrested on spying charges.

Many Georgians depend on money sent home from relatives living in Russia.

Suspicious names

Georgia's foreign minister told reporters in Tbilisi that Russia's actions would backfire.

A planeload of Georgian deportees arrived in Tbilisi on Friday after they were rounded up in police raids and accused of immigration offences.

Postal and transport links cut between Russia and Georgia
Georgian visa regulations tightened
Crackdown on illegal Georgian immigrants

Meanwhile a Russian plane took more Russians out of Georgia, which Moscow says is now unsafe for its citizens.

Russian media reports that Moscow's police have asked schools to draw up lists of pupils with Georgian surnames as part of their search for illegal immigrants.

Alexander Gavrilov, a spokesman for the Moscow education department, said some schools had received the request, which he criticised.

But a Russian interior ministry spokesman denied the request had been made.

Georgia accused

The dispute began after Georgia arrested four Russian military officials on 27 September and charged them with spying.

The four have been returned to Russia since being released on Monday, but Moscow is continuing to impose a series of punitive measures over what it terms an "act of state terrorism with hostage-taking".

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday urged Europe's security body to pressure Georgia to "drastically change its course" in dealing with regional disputes.

Why should Russia subsidise Georgia when it fails to consider Russian interests?
Robert, New York

In a letter to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Mr Putin accused Tbilisi of planning to solve the conflicts between Russia and Georgia over the two troubled Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by force.

Tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi have grown since the early 1990s, with Tbilisi accusing Moscow of supporting separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia following the collapse of the USSR.

Russia has accused Georgia of pursuing an anti-Russian foreign policy in seeking closer relations with the West and Nato.

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