Russians retake Georgian village
By Temuri Kiguradze
Monday, December 15The Georgian side and international observers state that Russian troops are back in the Georgian village of Perevi, a short time after abandoning it to be replaced by Georgian police.
On December 12 the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia [EUMM] and representatives of the Georgian Interior Ministry announced that the Russians had left Perevi, which had been occupied since the August conflict. The village is located near the administrative border with Georgian breakway region South Ossetia, on the Georgian side. The separatist authorities claim Perevi to be part of South Ossetia.
The Head of the EUMM, Ambassador Hansjorg Habe, commented on the withdrawal by saying: “We very much welcome this move. Russian forces in South Ossetia have for a long time refused to dismantle this checkpoint, in spite of clear evidence that it was situated to the west of the administrative boundary line of South Ossetia.”
However on December 13 the Georgian Interior Ministry announced that Russian troops had reentered the village and reestablished the checkpoint.
“At 5pm [local time on December 12] one platoon of Russian occupation forces and one armoured vehicle returned to the village and started to retake their previous positions there,” the Georgian Interior Ministry said. “Beginning this morning [December 13], Russian occupation forces increased the numbers of their troops and military hardware in the village. At about 9am local time, the Russian occupiers deployed in the village several dozen paratroopers with six combat helicopters. A mountain rifle battalion was also deployed.”
“The occupiers have threatened to open fire and demanded that Georgian police leave the area,” it continued. “In order to defuse tensions, the Georgian law enforcement officers have left Perevi, where over 500 Russian servicemen are currently deployed. OSCE observers, as well as the French, Romanian , Lithuanian and other Ambassadors in Georgia, have witnessed this re-occupation of the village. The Georgian Interior Ministry assesses this as a pre-planned provocation, which aims to create a renewal of the military confrontation,” the statement reads.
The re-occupation has been confirmed by EUMM. European monitors entered Perevi on December 13 and witnessed Russian troops stationed in the village again.
“Today, [December 13] an EUMM patrol verified that Russian troops have reoccupied the Perevi checkpoint in Georgia, near the administrative boundary of South Ossetia, and even deployed a considerable number of troops in and around the village of Perevi. This has occurred less than a day after Russian troops evacuated the checkpoint. Moreover, the Russian military hindered a number of EU Ambassadors from visiting Perevi village. The re-occupation of the checkpoint continues as of the issuance of this statement. No information is therefore available on the village itself.
The renewed Russian military occupation of the Perevi checkpoint, and, in addition, Perevi village, is incompatible with the provisions of the Sarkozy-Medvedev peace plan. Restricting the freedom of movement of Ambassadors in a foreign country is unacceptable under all relevant instruments of international law. EUMM calls on the Russian Government to withdraw its units from the Perevi checkpoint and Perevi village without delay,” says the EUMM statement.