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Ukraine Security Council chief expelled from opposition party

KIEV, September 1 (RIA Novosti) - The secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council was expelled from the opposition Party of Regions on Monday after disputing the party's support for Russia's recognition of Georgia's rebel regions.

On Sunday Raisa Bohatyryova distanced herself from party leader Viktor Yanukovych's support for the recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent, saying he was voicing his personal opinion.

However, the party issued a statement saying Yanukovych was expressing the party's coordinated view on the issue, and questioning Bohatyryova's further role in the party.

Russia officially recognized the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on August 26, saying the move was needed to protect the regions following Georgia's military offensive on August 8 in which hundreds of civilians died and thousands were forced to flee.

During the recent conflict, Russia accused Ukraine of supplying offensive weapons to Georgia, and providing military experts to rebuild Georgia's army communications network, damaged in the five-day conflict. Kiev denied the accusations.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who shares Georgia's ambition of joining NATO, said last Wednesday that Russia's decision to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia constituted a threat to European security.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said recognition of the Georgian regions was necessary to protect the republics from further Georgian acts of aggression.

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