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Russian-Georgian relations are in the focus of a PACE session that opened in Strasbourg on Monday. Fulfilling the pledge not to permit Mikhail Saakashvili’s speech, which was the first one for the last nine years at a PACE session, to become “triumphant”, the Russian delegation proposed to the PACE to investigate the human rights violations during Saakashvili’s presidency. In the estimates of the experts, this initiative became some kind of counterbalance to the PACE debates, which were scheduled on Wednesday over the report on humanitarian consequences of the Georgian-Russian war in 2008. Russia found the report politicized.
The highlight of the opening of the PACE winter session became Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili’s speech, which became his first speech in the PACE since 2004, the Kommersant daily reported. The speech was devoted to Georgia’s integration in the Euro-Atlantic space and the country’s adherence to the EU values. The Georgian president also did not ignore the relations with Russia in his speech. Before the opening of the PACE winter session he stated that Russia is “doomed” to the contacts with the United National Movement, which he heads and “which does not quit the Georgian political scene and will continue to work in Georgia for a long time.”
Meanwhile, the newspaper noted that Russia just takes the victory of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s opposition coalition Georgian Dream at the latest parliamentary elections as a chance to establish relations with Georgia. The PACE will not focus on the sharpest disagreements in Georgian-Russian relations, the Russian delegation told the Kommersant daily.
The Russian delegation levied harsh criticism mainly on the Georgian president. “If Saakashvili believes that his speech in the PACE will be triumphant, it will not be so,” head of the Russian delegation Alexei Pushkov warned in advance.
Meanwhile, the experts believe that the Russian delegation raised the Georgian issue already on the first day of the PACE winter session for some concrete reasons. The PACE is to debate the report on the humanitarian consequences of the Georgian-Russian war in 2008 on Wednesday. The document, which Swedish lawmaker Tina Acketoft drafted, is devoted to the humanitarian situation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The Russian delegation calls the report “non-catastrophic” for Russia, but “politicized”. The Russian delegation will not vote for a resolution over the report, because the author of the report named the Republic of South Ossetia and the Republic of Abkhazia, which Russia recognized independent, as integral part of Georgia, but Russia insists that these republics should be named as “the conflict zones”, Pushkov said. In this situation the proposal, which the Russian delegation has made in the PACE on Monday to draft a report on the human rights violations in Georgia, can be taken as a retaliatory measure to Acketoft’s report.