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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Poland, Georgia Fates Linked

WARSAW — Poland must stand firm with Georgia in its conflict with Russia because the two countries' fates are intertwined, the leader of Poland's main opposition party and twin brother of its president said Wednesday.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski was defending a decision by Polish President Lech Kaczynski to join Georgian leader Mikheil Saakashvili on a trip last Sunday to the de facto border between Georgia and breakaway South Ossetia, which is backed by Moscow.

The two presidents' convoy came under fire in an incident both men have blamed on Russian forces. Moscow denies any involvement. Some Polish newspapers have branded Kaczynski's trip to the South Ossetian border area as irresponsible.

"There's a link between Polish and Georgian independence. Only a complete idiot can fail to see that," Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a former prime minister and leader of the conservative Law and Justice party, told reporters. "It is in Polish interests to prevent a restoration of the Russian empire," he said.

President Kaczynski, a conservative nationalist, emerged as Tbilisi's strongest European ally during the five-day war between Russia and Georgia in August over South Ossetia, rushing to the ex-

Soviet republic to underline Polish solidarity. Kaczynski has also urged the European Union to take a tougher stance on what he has branded "Russian imperialism."

Many Poles are deeply suspicious of Russia, which helped carve up their country in the 18th century and again dominated it during the communist period after World War II.

Poland's center-right government, which has been more circumspect in its criticism of Russian actions in Georgia, is conducting an investigation into last Sunday's incident.