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Tskhinvali denies demolishing school

By Mzia Kupunia
Friday, March 26
De facto South Ossetian officials have denied allegations of the Georgian Foreign Ministry that a secondary school has been demolished in Akhalgori. No school was demolished on March 24, 2010 in the Akhalgori region, the de facto head of Akhalgori Alan Jusoev said on March 25, according to information agency RES. The Georgian side has once more shown its “incompetence”, Jusoev stated, accusing officials in Tbilisi of attempting to “destabilise” the situation in the region.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry had reported that on March 24 Russian soldiers demolished secondary school number 3 in Akhalgori “with the motive to build a residential house there”. 150 ethnic Georgian and Ossetian pupils have been forceably moved to another school, according to the Georgian MFA. “The demolition is a continuation of the ethnic cleansing policy of the Russians, and makes it even clearer that Russia is ignoring international law, including granting everyone the right to gain an education in his/her native language,” the statement released by Georgian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday read. The Ministry demanded that Russia “urgently” stop violating the rights of the Georgian and Ossetian population living in Georgia’s occupied region and called on the international community to force Russia to meet its commitments.

De facto Tskhinvali officials claim that the building mentioned by the Georgian MFA was “abandoned long ago”, before the August 2008 conflict. “The abovementioned building could hardly have been called a building – it was the half-ruined ground floor of a former Russian school,” Jusoev told RES. The de facto head of the Akhalgori region said that a military town is being constructed at the site. “This work was planned. Under an agreement signed with the border service of the Russian Federation, we have made over this territory for accommodating border policemen. In the near future a new military town will be built there,” Jusoev said.

Meanwhile the Russian media has reported that on Friday the Russian Duma will discuss draft agreements between Russia and Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on defending their “state borders”. In the draft documents Sokhumi and Tskhinvali give Russia the right to defend their “state borders”, including the sea border in Abkhazia. They envisage Moscow taking responsibility for training specialists to work in the border agencies of the de facto republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Under the draft agreements Russia will defend the “state borders” of de facto Abkhazia and South Ossetia until these regions form their own border guard systems, information agency Regnum has reported.