Russia denies pressuring Belarus to recognize ex-Georgian states

Russia is not pressuring Belarus to recognize the independence of the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Alexander Surikov said on Wednesday.

"We are not promoting the theme of recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia, because we understand that a country must act on its own interests in recognizing the independence of another state," Surikov said.

The two regions formally requested that Belarus recognize them a year ago, but Minsk has delayed its decision, torn between traditional ally Russia and the EU, which backs Georgia's claim to sovereignty over the republics.

"We have never set any direct or indirect demands, and we have set no demands at all to the Belarusian side on the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Surikov said.

The Belarusian parliament earlier delayed hearings on recognizing the former Georgian republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia until spring 2010.

Russia recognized the republics in August 2008 after repelling Georgia's assault on South Ossetia in a five-day war. Only Nicaragua, Venezuela and the tiny Pacific island state of Nauru have followed suit.

MINSK, December 23 (RIA Novosti)


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