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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia May Revoke Recognition of Rebel Regions

TBILISI, Georgia — Georgian opposition leader Zurab Noghaideli said Tuesday that he has “a clear plan” to make Russia reverse its recognition of two separatist Georgian regions as sovereign states.

“The plan is to secure the return of thousands of Georgian refugees” to the two regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, “and to restore economic and political ties,” Noghaideli told reporters.

“If Georgia can resolve its conflict with the Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples, Russia has told me they would support this initiative” and the “miracle” of restoring the two regions to Georgia “could happen,” Noghaideli said.

Russia routed Georgia’s U.S.-trained army in an August 2008 war over South Ossetia. In the wake of the conflict, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. More than 100,000 people were displaced during the conflict, according to the Georgian government.

President Dmitry Medvedev has said the decision is irrevocable.

More than 20,000 people fled the Akhalgori region in South Ossetia following Russia’s occupation of the region, Noghaideli said, while more than 2,000 were displaced from the Kodori Gorge in Abkhazia.

Without the Georgian government’s participation, it will be “difficult” to improve relations with Russia or the separatists, Noghaideli said.

Temur Iakobashvili, Georgia’s reintegration minister, declined to comment on Noghaideli’s statement.

“The government has a strategy for the occupied regions and it’s working,” Iakobashvili said by telephone. “The first stage is under way, and even under the occupation we feel that we have to help the two regions and their people.”

Noghaideli began the Georgian opposition’s effort to cultivate ties with Moscow when he signed a deal to cooperate with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party. He plans to travel to Russia for talks on Friday.