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Russia to complete peacekeeper rotation in Abkhazia by June 2

RIA Novosti

22/05/2007 12:20 MOSCOW, May 22 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will start rotating its peacekeeping contingent in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia on May 27 and complete the process by June 2, the force command said Tuesday.

Russian peacekeepers have been based in Abkhazia since the end of the Georgian-Abkhaz armed conflict in 1992-1993.

The contingent, consisting of several motorized rifle battalions with total of 500 servicemen deployed near the city of Maikop, will be rotated, but weapons and equipment will stay put, except for a few armored vehicles that need to be overhauled.

The Western-leaning Georgian authorities are pushing for Russian peacekeepers to be replaced with an international contingent. Georgia accuses the Kremlin of supporting its breakaway regions. Most Abkhazians hold Russian citizenship.

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