Putin says Russia insists on rebel Georgia regions' independence

MOSCOW Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:18am EST

MOSCOW Dec 20 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia will not back down on its decision to recognise Georgian breakaway regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia despite a recent parliamentary election that swept a new coalition to power.

"Russia cannot change its decision related to its acknowledgement of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent, by definition we cannot do that," Putin said at an annual news conference when asked about his relationship with new Georgian authorities.

Putin said he saw positive signals from the new Georgian government led by Bidzina Ivanishvili - a billionaire businessman who made his fortune in Russia.

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