Georgia Says Russia Committed Genocide in 19th Century

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TBILISI, Georgia — The Georgian Parliament voted Friday to recognize the 19th-century killings and deportations of ethnic Circassians by czarist Russia as genocide, a move that is likely to inflame tensions between the two countries.

Moscow is extraordinarily sensitive to any anti-Russian movements in the North Caucasus, a region on Russia’s southern border where it has been battling insurgents since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The declaration may also strengthen calls for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, which the Circassians consider part of their homeland.

Relations between Georgia and Russia have remained hostile since a brief war in 2008, and Georgia recently made an effort to build ties with restive Caucasian ethnic groups in Russia. Last year, Georgia dropped visa requirements for residents of the North Caucasus, and it started First Caucasus News, a Russian-language satellite channel.

Friday’s vote was Georgia’s most assertive move yet, and lawmakers hailed the decision as historic. No other country has recognized the killing of Circassians as genocide.

“This is Caucasian solidarity, a centuries-old tradition — much greater than Russia and the Russian empire,” said Guram Chakhvadze, a member of Parliament from the National Democratic Party. “I want to tell my Circassian friends that this is a first step, and I hope they will not lose hope.”...

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