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OSCE PA committee backs resolution on Russia’s alleged occupation of Abkhazia, S. Ossetia

The Committee on Political Affairs and Security at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) passed a draft resolution on Sunday calling on Russia to reverse its decision on recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The draft resolution also accuses Russia of “occupation” and steps towards “factual annexation” of these two republics. Fifty members of national delegations voted in favor of the document, five opposed it and nine others abstained from the vote.

The text, authored by Georgian MP Sofio Katsarava, labeled these two republics as occupied Georgian territories. Meanwhile, the OSCE PA again expresses full support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The resolution also voices serious concerns “over the fact that Georgia is deprived of the possibility to exercise the legitimate jurisdiction over its territory due to the Russian Federation’s illegal occupation and steps towards factual annexation” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The document also highlights that Russia is responsible for violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the republics, as well as alleged military buildup there, which the Assembly strongly condemns.

According to the text, the OSCE PA urges Russia to “reverse its illegal decision on the recognition of the so-called independence of the occupied territories of Georgia” and cease human rights violations and politically motivated prosecution as well as alleged ethnic discrimination against the residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Besides, it asks Russia to allow access of international human rights mechanisms, including the relevant OSCE executive structures, to both republics.

Russian delegation’s response
During the discussion on the document, a member of the Russian delegation, First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee Vladimir Dzhabarov said: “Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia after the Abkhazian and South Ossetian people had freely expressed their will and was guided by the UN Charter’s provisions.” According to him, the August 2008 attack carried out by former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and the murder of Russian peacekeepers, as well as plotting a similar offensive against Abkhazia became a turning point of Tbilisi’s centuries-long violent policy against minorities. The legislator noted that both republics have become sovereign states, creating their own state structures, including executive, legislative and judicial bodies.

A member of the Russian delegation and chair of the State Duma (lower house of Russia’s parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, pointed out that the UN Charter stipulates the right of nations to self-determination. “Over the past years, the citizens of these territories have been eliminated and subjected to different massive humiliation,” he stressed.

The head of Russia’s delegation, Deputy Speaker of the State Duma (lower house) Pyotr Tolstoy said at the beginning of the OSCE PA’s 28th session in Luxembourg that Russian legislators would oppose this and other anti-Russian resolutions. Besides, their adoption may also influence Russia’s position on the final declaration at the session.

South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia after the August 2008 armed conflict. Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and has repeatedly stated that it would not review this decision. By now, four countries – Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru and Syria – have recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

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