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Ossetians take over another Georgian village

By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, November 10
The Georgian village of Perevi was taken by the South Ossetian militia on November 8. According to the Georgian Interior Ministry, 50 armed Ossetian militiamen entered the village after the departure of Russian troops on the same day.

“The Russian forces are currently in the process of handing over the checkpoints in the village of Perevi to the criminal militias of its proxy regime in the Tskhinvali region. This increases the risk of confrontation and makes security in the village even more volatile. It might result in the displacement of the residents of Perevi, the loss of their property and a new wave of ethnic cleansing,” says a statement from the Georgian Foreign Ministry published on Saturday. The Foreign Ministry underlines that Russian troops have taken on the obligation to withdraw from the territory of Georgia, however it points out that prior to the withdrawal Russia bears “full responsibility for the actions of criminal militias of proxy regimes.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia calls upon the international community, and in particular observers from the OSCE and the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), not to allow a new wave of ethnic cleansing. Unarmed observers from EUMM have replaced Russian troops on the territories occupied by Russians after the August conflict, under an agreement reached between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy. The EUMM has confirmed the invasion, adding that “Evidence on the ground seems, moreover, to suggest that Russian military forces will be replaced by the forces of the South Ossetian de facto authorities. This would further exacerbate tensions, to the detriment of the civilian population in and around the village of Perevi.”

Perevi is a Georgian-populated village located near the administrative border of breakaway South Ossetia; it is part of the Sachkhere region. The village was occupied by Russian troops after the August conflict. Since the withdrawal of the Russian Army on October 10, the checkpoint in the village has not been removed. “The Russian forces in South Ossetia have persistently refused to dismantle this checkpoint, in spite of the fact that it is clearly located to the west of the administrative boundary line of South Ossetia,” the EUMM said in a statement on the Perevi incident. This is also the case in another Georgian village, Akhalgori, also located near the administrative border.

The leader of the South Ossetian separatists Eduard Kokoity has stated that the Georgian Government is “bad at geography” and claimed that Perevi village has always been part of South Ossetia. “Our troops have never crossed the border with Georgia and are placed only in the populated areas located on the territory of South Ossetia. It seems that the Georgian Government doesn’t even know the borders of its own state,” said Kokoity, as quoted by Russian news agency Interfax. He also confirmed the entry of the Ossetian troops and stated that the soldiers were going to establish a “state border” in Perevi. “The state border will also be established in Leningori [old name for Akhalgori], which is also part of South Ossetia,” said separatist leader, underlining that he doesn’t need the territory that “doesn’t belong” to South Ossetia.

A spokesperson from the Georgian Interior Ministry has stated that the situation in Perevi is calm for now and there are no reports of aggression from Ossetians towards the Georgian population, however he pointed out that the Ossetian militia has said it will stay there “until all Georgians leave the village.”