Helena Bedwell and Celestine Bohlen
August 25, 2008

Both houses of Russia’s parliament unanimously called on President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the independence of two breakaway Georgian regions that sparked Russia’s first foreign military incursion since the Soviet era.

Boris Gryzlov, speaker of the State Duma, the lower house, told reporters in Moscow today that he expects Medvedev to respond to parliament’s appeals regarding South Ossetia and Abkhazia “in a very short time,” the Interfax news service reported.

Medvedev, who will make the final decision on whether to recognize the territories, has said Russia supports the regions’ decisions on their future status, though he has stopped short of formally recognizing them. U.S. President George W. Bush has insisted the regions remain part of Georgia.

The regions, which broke away from Georgia in wars in the early 1990s, have cited Kosovo’s Feb. 17 declaration of independence from Serbia as a precedent for their aspirations. Their status is key to the future stability of the Caucasus, a restless area fraught with ancient rivalries that has been a Russian security concern for centuries. For Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili, the loss of the two provinces would be a crushing personal defeat and a blow to his country’s identity.

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