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Georgia-Russia Relations Warning

Published: January 25, 2013 (Issue # 1743)


MOSCOW Acocktail-party chat that lasted only minutes has triggered hopes that thecountry's troubled relations with Georgia might be headed forsubstantial recovery.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had aconversation with his Georgian counterpart, Bidzina Ivanishvili, during areception atthe Davos World Economic Forum late Wednesday, Medvedev's spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, said Thursday. "Both prime ministers were atthe reception andhad aconversation," she was quoted as saying byInterfax.

Timakova downplayed themeeting byadding that Medvedev talked "with many delegation heads fromother countries" during theforum, but national media were quick topoint out that theencounter marked thefirst direct contact between governments ofboth countries inyears.

Diplomatic ties between Moscow andTbilisi were cut in2008, after both countries fought abrief war over Georgia's breakaway region South Ossetia, followed byMoscow's recognition ofindependence forthat region

as well as nearby Abkhazia. Moscow has since adamantly refused any contact with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, whom it accuses tobe awar criminal forordering troops intoSouth Ossetia.

But theoutlook has changed since Saakashvili's United National Movement was defeated inparliamentary elections last fall byIvanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition. Ivanishvili, abillionaire who made much ofhis wealth inRussia, has said he wants better relations with Moscow.

This week saw other symbolic high-level meetings ofofficials between both countries. OnWednesday, Georgian Patriarch Ilia II became themost prominent Georgian tobe received byPresident Vladimir Putin inthe Kremlin since the2008 war.

Thehead ofthe Georgian Orthodox Church has maintained close ties with his Russian counterpart, Kirill, over thepast years. Both church leaders met fortalks Tuesday. Unlike theKremlin, theMoscow Patriarchy has inthe past supported Georgia's territorial integrity, arguing that under church law, thebreakaway regions Abkhazia andSouth Ossetia remain part ofGeorgia.

No details ofthe Kremlin talks were published, but Ilia told RIA-Novosti that he would raise theissue with Putin.

Thursday then saw thefirst direct contacts between senior lawmakers fromboth sides, when theforeign relations committee heads fromboth countries met inStrasbourg.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, July 24


Liliana Modiliani, a well-known Russian stylist, will talk about choosing clothes that fit during her lecture at 7 p.m. at the Pryamoy Efir art club, 13 Viborgskoe Shosse.



Friday, July 25


Discuss Russias economic and political prospects for 2014 during a Business Breakfast organized by SPIBA at 9.30 a.m. in the Bank Saint-Petersburg office at 64


Malookhtinsky Prospekt.


Start your weekend with adorable miniature pigs at the Squealing Pig festival at 7 p.m. this evening in the Karl & Friedrich restaurant, 15 Iozhnaya doroga, on Krestovsky Island.



Saturday, July 26


Hundreds of brand-new and retro cars, drag and drift shows, test drives and karting are planned for the Avtobum-2014 festival, which will take place in front of the RIO shopping center at 2 Fuchika Ulitsa.


Participants in todays SaniDay Summer competition will impress visitors with their hand-made, unusual and hilarious boats, which will race at the Igora Resort near the 54th kilometer on Priozerskoe Shosse.


Metro Family Day will include both serious lectures for adults and master-classes for children, making the event interesting for the whole family. To participate, come to Kirov Park on Yelagin Island.


Photography will be the focus of todays Photosubbota, which features lectures by famous photographers, meetings with photo schools and studio representatives, and participation in a photography competition. The event starts at noon at Petrokongress, 5 Lodeynopolskaya Ulitsa.


If you like cycling, make sure to visit the Za Velogorod Festival with its retro bike exhibition, market and live music. The second round of the Leningrad Criterium race will also take place during the event at Petrovsky Arsenal in Sestroretsk.



Sunday, July 27


Navy Day will be celebrated with a weapon and military transportation exhibition, self-defense master classes and concerts. The event starts at 1 p.m. in the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburg.



Monday, July 28


Dont miss a chance to see the latest achievements in robotics during the RoboDom interactive show, exhibiting more than 150 robots. The show will be at BUM center, 22/2 Gzhatskaya Ulitsa, until Aug. 3. The entrance ticket costs 350 rubles ($10).



Tuesday, July 29


A video of a Queen concert from 1986 will be shown today at 8 p.m. in Yaschik, 50/13 Ligovsky Prospekt.



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