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Russia ratifies friendship treaties with Abkhazia, S.Ossetia

MOSCOW, October 29 (RIA Novosti) - The lower house of Russia's parliament ratified friendship treaties with South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Wednesday.

Russia recognized both Georgian separatist republics as independent states on August 26 after the end of a five-day conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi, which launched an attack on South Ossetia in early August.

Russia established diplomatic ties with both states on September 9 and signed friendship treaties with them on September 17. Both the Abkhazian and South Ossetian parliaments have already ratified the treaties.

Under the pact, Russia has pledged to help the republics protect their borders, and the signatories have granted each other the right to set up military bases in their respective territories.

The treaty recognizes dual citizenship, as the majority of people living in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are also Russian passport holders. Russia has also agreed to unify its transportation, energy, and communications infrastructure with the republics.

A senior Russian MP said the treaties "are in full compliance with Russia's national interests."

Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Duma's international affairs committee, said a number of provisions would be clarified in separate agreements.

"This concerns, in particular, military cooperation, citizenship and border protection," he said.

He also said the treaties would safeguard the republics against a possible recurrence of Georgian aggression.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said the treaties create a sound foundation for future bilateral cooperation and partnership.

The treaties have yet to be ratified by the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, before being signed by the president and entering into force.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia have so far only been recognized by Russia and Nicaragua. Belarus has said it may recognize the breakaway regions in the future, and Venezuela has voiced support for Russia's move.

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