Page last updated at 17:12 GMT, Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Georgian FM sends back passport

Georgian FM Grigol Vashadze
Mr Vashadze sent his passport in an envelope to the Russian president

Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze, a former Soviet diplomat, has renounced his Russian citizenship.

He was responding to a motion in the Russian parliament calling for him to be stripped of his passport.

The motion had accused Mr Vashadze of sowing anti-Russian sentiment in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Georgia last year.

Mr Vashadze, who held joint Russian-Georgian citizenship, had been highly critical of Moscow's action.

In the event the motion was not passed, as it was seen as flouting the Russian constitution.

Mr Vashadze told reporters that the Russian parliament had been "a bit late" as he had already written to President Dmitry Medvedev giving up his citizenship.

"I put it in an envelope with the passport and sent it," he said. "With this, my Russian citizenship is finished."

Prima ballerina

Mr Vashadze's Russian citizenship stems from a period working in the Soviet foreign ministry between 1980 and 1988.

His appointment as Georgian foreign minister had been seen as an attempt to repair relations between Russia and Georgia, shattered by the five-day war in August 2008, says the BBC's Tom Esslemont in Tbilisi.

The conflict followed rising tension over the disputed territory of South Ossetia, which Russia has since recognised as independent from Georgia.

Mr Vashadze's wife, Nino Ananiashvili, a former prima ballerina with the Bolshoi ballet company, remains a Russian citizen.

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