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Lavrov Derides Saakashvili as 'Pathological'

Russia's top diplomat called Georgia's president "a pathological case" who was "very badly brought up" on Monday, signaling no easing of tensions between Moscow and Tbilisi on the third anniversary of the brief 2008 war over South Ossetia.

As a token gesture of goodwill, a Russian air carrier started regular flights between Moscow and Georgia's city of Kutaisi. But Georgian diplomats faced expulsion from offices in downtown Moscow where electricity was cut off last week.

President Dmitry Medvedev visited an Interior Ministry special forces brigade that fought in the 2008 war, praising the troops for resisting the "aggressor" and decorating 77 soldiers with awards, including one posthumously, the Kremlin said on its web site.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili responded by laying flowers on the graves of Georgians killed in the war and meeting with their relatives, local Rustavi-2 television said.

Medvedev also asked the State Duma to ratify an agreement to place a Russian military base in another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia. The deal, signed last year, will not be approved until after the legislature reconvenes in the fall.

The five-day war, which began with a Georgian offensive on South Ossetia after months of provocation by Russia, resulted in Moscow moving its forces into the separatist region and repelling the attack. Moscow recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia weeks after the clash, which was ended with France's mediation.

"Tension is growing again between Russia and Georgia," the International Crisis Group, an influential Brussels-based think tank, said Monday. It called on the countries, which severed formal diplomatic ties following the war, to begin a direct dialogue.

But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would never deal with Saakashvili.

"We will have no dealings with a man who gave the criminal order to kill peacekeepers and ordered the death of peaceful civilians, including Russian citizens," Lavrov told reporters in Moscow.

"Saakashvili is, of course, a pathological case and an anomaly among the Georgian people. He is clearly very badly brought up," he said.

He also accused Saakashvili of "dreaming up fairy tales" about what caused the war, which Moscow and Tbilisi each say the other started.

His remarks echoed Medvedev, who told Georgian media in a rare interview last week that he would "never forgive" Saakashvili for purportedly starting the war.

The Investigative Committee, which is conducting a probe into the conflict, reiterated on Monday allegations of war crimes committed in South Ossetia by the Georgian military, which Moscow said were what prompted it to intervene in 2008.

The Georgian attack amounted to attempted genocide against the South Ossetian population, the committee said in a statement that also accused Georgian investigators of refusing to cooperate in the inquiry.

The committee said it has reviewed some 600 complaints by Georgian citizens who accused the Russian military of war crimes and found them all groundless.

Georgia did not respond immediately to the Russian investigation.


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