Vested interests in Russia stopped Abkhazia recognition - Lukashenko

MINSK, October 2 (RIA Novosti) -Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday that Belarus did not recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia following the August 2008 conflict in the Caucasus due to the actions of certain forces.

Moscow recognized Georgia's breakaway republics as independent states after a five-day war with Tbilisi. The two regions later requested Russian ally Belarus to follow suit, but the ex-Soviet state has not given an answer so far.

Lukashenko blamed reports in Russia's state-controlled media, which said Belarus's reluctance to recognize the regions was a response to Russia's refusal to grant the remaining $500 million of a loan.

"Someone in Russia wanted to force us [to recognize], or to prevent us from recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia," he said.

"As if I would have recognized or not recognized them for money! I said then 'Come on, guys! It won't be your way."

Lukashenko also urged Russia to be patient. "We will settle the issue," he said.

The two republics, which had maintained de-facto independence since post-Soviet conflicts in the early 1990s, have also been recognized as independent states by Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Georgia severed ties with Russia after its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, calling the regions occupied territories.

Moscow pledged to defend the regions after repelling Georgia's assault on South Ossetia, and has built up its military presence there.



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