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Abkhazia to order foreign passports in Russia

RIA Novosti

10:28 05/10/2009 MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) - Authorities from the former Georgian republic of Abkhazia will order passports in Russia giving its citizens the ability to travel abroad, a Russian daily reported on Monday.

Abkhaz passports are expected to correspond to international standards, Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh said in an interview with Vremya Novostei.

"We will order passports in the Russian Federation," Bagapsh said, adding: "We expect to start printing passports within one or two months."

Though Abkhaz internal passports allow citizens of the republic to enter Russia, the Abkhaz president believes the republic's residents should have foreign passports as well.

"This will allow [Abkhaz citizens] to travel to other countries," the president said, adding he expected Abkhazia and another former Georgian republic, South Ossetia, to be recognized soon by other states.

According to international law, citizens of Abkhazia are still considered to be Georgian citizens and must receive international passports through Tbilisi.

"Essential negotiations" on this issue are being held with several states, the president said, adding Belarus's recognition of Abkhazia should "be settled any day now."

Bagapsh said Abkhazia will never reunite with Georgia.

"We will create our own independent state," he said. "We will develop friendly relations with Russia in the first place, since we have such a good partner and neighbor."

Russia recognized the independence of the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia last August after a five-day war with Georgia over the latter, which was attacked by Tbilisi in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Besides Russia, only Nicaragua and Venezuela have recognized the former Georgian republics.

Under mutual assistance treaties signed last November, Russia pledged to help South Ossetia and Abkhazia protect their borders. Moscow promised significant financial support to rebuild the republics, which had been de facto independent since the early 1990s.

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