By Duncan Mackay in Belgrade
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

Alexander_Zhukov_in_front_of_Olympic_ringsNovember 26 - Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov today hit out a new initiative by Georgia's Parliament to mount a campaign against Sochi hosting the Winter Olympics and Paralympics in 2014.

Russia does not deserve to host the Games because it occupies Georgia's territory, violates human rights and leads a war in North Caucasus, the country's Deputy Prime Minister Georgi Baramidze has claimed and is seeking support from the European Union for the plan.

But Zhukov, recently elected as President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), has claimed that the former Soviet republic Georgia have no right to question Sochi's election to host the Games.

In a statement released earlier this week, Georgia politicians said the Olympics in Sochi should not take place "before the de-occupation of Georgia" and that they should work to convince the IOC of "the necessity of holding the 2014 Winter Olympics in a different country."

Zhukov, though, has defended Sochi and Russia's right to host the Games, the first time they have staged an Olympics since Moscow in 1980.

"It is completely unacceptable for Governments or politicians to interfere with the business of the Olympic Movement," said Zhukov, who is attending the European Olympic Committees Annual Assembly here in the Serbian capital.

"The recent statements from Georgia go against the spirit of the Olympic Charter which are above politics.

"Sochi was democratically chosen by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and they are accountable [only] to the IOC."

Zhukov is angry at claims by Baramidze that the "Olympic Movement is something different than what Russia demonstrates today".

Sochi is adjacent to Abkhazia, a region that broke free of Georgian control in the 2008 war with Russia that also split South Ossetia from Georgia.

Russian troops now have a strong presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Russia recognises as independent countries.

But Zhukov insisted that he would not allow row to harm the ROC's relations with its counterparts in Georgia, including supporting a bid from Tbilisi to host the 2015 European Youth Olympic Festival, a decision which is due to be announced tomorrow.

"Russia enjoys good sporting relations with Georgia and we will support them for their bid to host EYOF," he said.

"We will not support the statement of the Goverment but we will support the Olympic Committee of Georgia."

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