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.
Deployment of Patriot missile battery to offer further protection against any potential North Korean attack
The Indian army says four suspected rebels and two soldiers have been killed in a fierce gunbattle in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir.
A former governor of Afghanistan's Herat province was kidnapped from the Pakistani capital by unidentified gunmen.
South Korea’s military is ‘ready for every possibility’ after abrupt closure of joint factory park in North Korea
Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System may be deployed as a counter to North Korea's growing missile threat
US-NATO spokesman says ISIL is contained in 4 or 5 districts
'Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet,' underlines gov't negotiator, as stakeholders fight to keep faith in deal that seals peace in country's Muslim south
The High Court dismissed appeals by Mufti Abdul Hannan, head of Harkatul Jihad Al Islami, and two members of the banned armed group who have all been convicted over a spate of deadly attacks
Media reports in Pakistan estimates the deal is worth at least $16 billion
According to reports, the chief of North Korea's military has been executed by order of the country's leader, Kim Jong-Un
An NGO's report warns that destruction of confidence in state, legal and justice systems could lure people into joining ‘struggle for independence’ in troubled region
An apex style committee will be launched to help execute the CPEC
Several rights organizations have issued a joint statement urging to lift unlawful restrictions on rights activist Uktam Pardaev
Thirteen executives of Islamic Renaissance Party have been detained for organizing armed attack on security forces
Two people have been killed in when a plane crashed in a suburban area of Java
According to the International Labor Organization there are still around 3.2 million child labors in Bangladesh