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.
Originally from the northwest Caucasus, Circassians say 1.5 million of their ancestors were systematically killed in a Russian military campaign in 1860-64 to occupy the Caucasus mountain area on the southern border of today's Russia.
The deaths were recorded by Russian imperial historians in 1864. No nation has recognised them genocide.
"We as a representatives of Georgian people should end the 150-year long sufferings of Circassians and restore their rights," said Nugzar Tsiklauri, the head of a parliamentary committee for relations with diasporas and Caucasus nations.
The Georgian resolution says that the Russian empire planned and carried out the ethnic cleansing of Circassians, ultimately displacing 90 percent of them. It also says that czarist Russia artificially spread hunger and disease with the goal of annihilating the Circassians, and that it then resettled other ethnic groups in their land.
The move is likely to strain relations between Russia and Georgia, which have yet to recover from a five-day war in 2008 over the Moscow-backed separatist province of South Ossetia.
The resolution could increase tension over the 2014 Winter Olympics, which Russia is hosting in Sochi, a resort city in what the Circassians consider their historic homeland.
Members of the Circassian diaspora are demanding the Sochi Games be cancelled or moved unless Russia apologises for what they say was genocide against their ancestors. Some Circassian leaders are demanding autonomous territory within Russia.
Earlier this year Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pointed to Georgia as a potential security threat to the games.
Tsiklauri presented a draft of the resolution, which said: "Killings and deportations of Circassians during the Russian-Caucasian War should be recognised as genocide and ethnic cleansing."
Deportations and turmoil led many Circassians south to Turkey and elsewhere, and their seven million or so descendants are spread across the world from the United States to Jordan. About 700,000 remain in the northwest Caucasus.
The closest the Russian government has come to apologising for the bloodshed was in 1994, when President Boris Yeltsin acknowledged that resistance to tsarist violence was legitimate.
Police say suspect confessed to killing parents after trying to ask them for money, and then killing 17 neighbors in Yunnan
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised hopes of a new era in relations with Islamabad when he paid a surprise Christmas Day visit to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan and Iran are brotherly countries, and have no disputes, says Pakistani official, downplaying incident
Golf course selected as new South Korean site for contentious American missile defense system after local protests
Border villages have been evacuated after tensions have escalated on the border
Several soldiers have been killed with one captured by Pakistan after the soldier crossed over the the Line of Control
Landslides in east caused by heavy rainfall during Typhoon Megi, more than 300,000 displaced
Pakistan has summoned the Indian ambassador after India killed two Pakistani soldiers
Philippine leader refers to Holocaust in saying he would be ‘happy to slaughter’ 3 million drug addicts in crackdown
Iran border guards on Wednesday fired three mortar shells into Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, triggering panic among the local population.
Former Afghan rebel leader calls Taliban to peace after agreeing to put down arms
Paramilitary ranger, female gas station employee killed and 9 other people injured in separate attacks blamed on insurgents
Court appearance for man accused of transporting 73 men, women and children by boat to mainland
The official Xinhua News agency reported earlier that the villagers were found dead at their homes on Thursday morning.
The strikes aimed at "neutralising the terrorists" had caused "multiple casualties", according to the Indian officials.
China also sent fighter planes for the first time over a strait near Japan on Monday as part of a group of more than 40 jets headed to train in the West Pacific.