Saakashvili 'no longer' Georgia president, says Medvedev

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he no longer considers his counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili to be Georgia's leader, claiming he is a “political corpse.

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“For us, the present Georgian regime has collapsed. President Saakashvili no longer exists in our eyes. He is a political corpse,” Mr Medvedev said in an interview with Italy's RAI television.

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Mr Medvedev said in the interview – broadcast on Russian television – that Moscow was ready to hold talks with the international community “on all sorts of questions, including post-conflict resolution in the region” of the Caucasus.

“But we would like the international community to remember who began the aggression and who is responsible for people's deaths,” he said.

Mr Medvedev called on the US to “review” its relations with Georgia in the wake of the dispute.

“I think that in this situation, it is time that our American partners review their relations with the current regime (in Georgia) because it has put Georgia in a very difficult position, caused serious destablisation and launched an aggression that ended in many deaths.”

'No fear' of G8 expulsion

The president also said Moscow did not fear being expelled from the Group of Eight industrialised nations over the Georgian crisis, as has been suggested by some in the West.

The Kremlin leader said the suggestions were being made in relation to the upcoming presidential election in the United States.

US Republican candidate John McCain has fiercely condemned Russia's actions in its conflict with Georgia, and demanded that Moscow be barred from the G8 rich nations club as punishment.

“The calls that are being heard, I explain them exclusively by the American electoral technology as a way of raising popularity based on conflict,” Mr Medvedev said.

He further said NATO “would lose more” than Moscow by breaking relations with Russia.

“We do not see anything dramatic, anything complicated in the suspension of relations (with NATO) if our partners desire it,” said Mr Medvedev. “But it seems that they would lose more.”

Russia sent tanks and troops into Georgia on August 8, a day after Georgia launched an offensive to regain control of breakaway South Ossetia.

Moscow halted its offensive after five days but refused to withdraw all its troops, saying they are on a peacekeeping mission. Georgia has labelled them an occupation force.