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Russia's efforts to aide the self-proclaimed Abkhaz republic politically as well as economically, this time offering support in restoring the functioning of Sokhumi's Babushera airport, has been bitterly criticized as a violation of international law.
The chair of Georgia's transport regulatory commission, Aleksandre Chkhikvadze said that if Russia agrees to open an air link with Abkhazia, it will violate all international agreements.
"The space above Georgia belongs to Georgian air space and its violation is tantamount to intrusion of its territory. If anyone wants to fly in Georgia, it must be agreed to by the Georgian government and the transport regulatory commission," Chkhikvadze told reporters on December 21.
Earlier on Tuesday de facto Abkhaz president Sergey Bagapsh announced the initiative of launching an air traffic agreement between Russia and Abkhazia, which he claimed, had been unanimously approved by Russian State Duma MPs.
" Sokhumi is in talks with Moscow over launching civilian aircraft between the two cities, that means Sokhumi Babushera airport will begin functioning shortly, " Bagapsh stated in an interview posted on his official website on December 20.
He stressed that "opening air links is a major step towards ceasing the economic blockade. "
According to Bagapsh, Russian specialists have already inspected the capacity of airport infrastructure and confirmed the airport is ready to operate.
"The airport is fully capable of receiving civilian air crafts, " deputy director general of Abkhaz Airways Nodar Gerzmava stated.
Currently, Abkhazia is only linked with the outer world by means of land transport. Air traffic linking Abkhazia with the rest of the world has been suspended since 1993.
Currently, the Babushera airport services air transport for the UN mission only. Flights are also made to the highland settlement of Pekhu in the Sokhumi district.
Bagapsh also noted that it is planed in the near future to resume ferry transport with Turkey that was disrupted in 1996.
Meanwhile, the Russian Public Chamber [a mix of nongovernmental organizations' of the Soviet Union's Congress of People's Deputies and the presidential council that existed under President Boris Yeltsin] is thinking of rendering financial assistance to Russian citizens residing in the breakaway territories of post Soviet - Abkhazia and South Ossetia where reportedly around 80 percent of population are Russian citizens.
"We are creating a council for rendering assistance to the citizens of the Russian Federation within the framework of the commission for international cooperation under the Public Chamber. The assistance will go to those Russians who live in the republics on the territories of the former USSR, which have not been recognized internationally, " a political scientist, deputy head of the commission for international cooperation of the Public Chamber of Russia Sergey Markov stated, Itar-tass news agency reported.
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