Russian Duma chairman Gennady Seleznev, in Tbilisi for a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, addressed the Georgian parliament yesterday. Seleznev conditioned Russia’s ratification of the Russian-Georgian good-neighborly relations treaty on Tbilisi’s own ratification of an agreement on Russian military bases in Georgia and on other concessions by Tbilisi. The latter should include the establishment of a Russian General Consulate in Batumi where "30,000 Russian-speakers including Russian military reside," Seleznev said. In a follow-up statement he opposed Georgia’s claim to a share of the ex-Soviet Black Sea Fleet.
Seleznev complained of "anti-Russian moods" after the opposition National-Democratic parliamentary group walked out during his speech. Georgian parliament chairman Zurab Zhvania responded that "those of our statements that Russia deems sharp actually reflect the public opinion in our country." He also described Russian policy on Abkhazia as "the main stumbling block" in bilateral relations. (Interfax, ORT, December 12)
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