Pressured by Moscow to recognize breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states, Belarussian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka dispatched an official delegation to Sukhumi, the Abkhaz capital.
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has pledged an unspecified amount of financial aid to the breakaway region of Abkhazia.
"After gaining independence, there is more work to do. Belarus would be glad to help solve more problems that exist in the region," Lukashenko was quoted by his official website as telling de facto Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh at a March 23 meeting.
High atop a mountain chain in western Turkey stands Mezit village, a hamlet founded in the 19th century by Abkhaz rebels on the run from Tsarist Russian troops. More than 130 years later, Mezit's Abkhaz residents now have one goal -- to return to Abkhazia, where Russian troops are now a welcome presence.
This article was updated on 2/17/09 to clarify a statement by de facto Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba.
The United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) was given a four-month extension after weeks of concern that its mandate would be the latest victim in the diplomatic fall-out following Georgia and Russia's 2008 war.
Abkhazia has hailed Russian recognition of its independence from Georgia as the start of a new era, but for Georgians in the southern Abkhaz region of Gali the campaign to strengthen Abkhazia's statehood poses a dilemma: whether or not to take Abkhaz citizenship.
Many Georgians in Gali, a predominantly ethnic Georgian (Mingrelian) area, fear that they may be forced to take Abkhaz passports, which would require them to forfeit their Georgian citizenship, an act few are willing to make.