Germany criticizes Russian vote on rebels

The German government has called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev not to recognize Georgia's two breakaway provinces as independent nations. Government spokesman Thomas Steg says the twin votes by Russian lawmakers to recognize the two separatist provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia were "in no way appropriate to either calming or defusing" tensions in the region. Russian lawmakers in both houses of parliament voted unanimously Monday to ask the president to recognize the independence of Georgia's two rebel provinces. The votes were not legally binding and it was up to Medvedev to make the final call on diplomatic recognition.