A background on the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, at the heart of a tug-of-war between Georgia and Russia.
* A Black Sea region bordering
* Abkhazia is internationally recognised as part of Georgia but it has declared itself an independent state. It fought a war in the early 1990s to drive out Georgian forces. The conflict killed an estimated 10,000 people and forced hundreds of thousands to leave their homes.
BUILD-UP TO CONFLICT:
* On coming to power in January 2004 after a bloodless revolution, pro-Western Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili vowed to make reuniting the country his top priority.
* On April 16, 2008, then Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to intensify ties with Abkhazia and
* Early in May,
* The remote Kodori Gorge had become the focus for a sharp escalation in tension between
* A U.N. report on May 26 said a Russian air force jet had shot down a Georgian unmanned spy plane over Abkhazia on April 20.
* Saakashvili proposed a peace deal under which South
* Abkhazia's separatist administration says the region's population is 340,000.
* The Abkhaz people are ethnically distinct from Georgians. They say they were forcibly absorbed into
* According to the International Crisis Group think tank, a Soviet census in 1989 showed ethnic Abkhaz accounted for 18 percent of the region's population, ethnic Georgians 45 percent and other groups, mostly Russians and Armenians, the rest.
* Starting in the late 1990s, some ethnic Georgians began returning to their homes in Abkhazia's Gali district, near the de facto border with
* Separatist officials say over 80 percent of residents in Abkhazia have been issued with Russian passports. [ =====
Date created : 2008-08-13