One person was killed and three others were wounded on Wednesday in two blasts in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia, the Caucasus press news agency reported.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) and Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh talk as they meet in Sukhumi, August 12, 2009. Putin made a surprise visit to the breakaway region of Abkhazia on Wednesday, pledging half a billion dollars to strengthen the defences of the Moscow-backed rebel enclave. [Xinhua/Reuters Photo]
Earlier in the day, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin paid his first visit to Abkhazia since Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway Georgian region, after a brief war with Georgia last August.
Shortly after Putin left, a package exploded on the sea promenade of the regional capital Sukhumi. No one was hurt in the blast.
In a separate incident, an explosive device blew up in a garbage container in the Abkhaz resort of Gagra, leaving one dead and another three wounded.
Prior to the visit, Putin told Abkhaz media that Russia would spend 15-16 billion rubles (465 million U.S. dollars) in 2010 on strengthening Abkhazia's defenses.
At a news conference after talks with the Abkhaz leader, Putin pledged an additional 10.9 billion roubles (330 million dollars) in economic and social assistance to Abkhazia in 2010-2011.
"Russia is providing and will provide economic, political and, if necessary, military support to Abkhazia," Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
The prime minister's visit came days after the first anniversary of the Caucasus war. Tensions in the border areas between Georgia and the separatist regions have been heightened recently, triggering fears of a fresh conflict.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (C) visits a maternity hospital in Sukhumi, August 12, 2009. [Xinhua/Reuters Photo]
The Georgian Foreign Ministry denounced Putin's visit "to the occupied territory of a sovereign country" as a "provocation."
The trip was "yet another attempt to destabilize the situation and escalate tensions in the Caucasus region," it said.
Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Tbilisi's rule during a war in the 1990s that followed the collapse of the former Soviet Union.
Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war last August, when Georgia attacked South Ossetia to retake the region that borders Russia. In response, Moscow sent in troops to drive Georgian forces out of the region.
Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states two weeks after the conflict ended, but no country has followed suit except for Nicaragua.
(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2009)