S.Ossetia concerned over Georgian police numbers near border

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : South Ossetia’s acting interior minister expressed his concern on Thursday over the build up of Georgian police in buffer zones close to the region’s border following the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers.

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The withdrawal of troops from buffer zones adjacent to breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia following a five-day armed conflict between Russia and Georgia in August was completed on Wednesday, two days ahead of a deadline agreed by the Russian and French presidents in September. Russia handed control of the zones to an EU monitoring mission.

“Georgia quickly deployed a large law enforcement contingent here. The behavior of the contingent is causing alarm. They are coming close to the South Ossetian border and checkpoints here, provoking the use of weapons,” Mikhail Mindzayev said.

The head of South Ossetia’s information and press committee said that in addition to increasing its police presence in the buffer zones, Georgia is intensifying its aggressive rhetoric and propaganda.

“For example, their [Georgia’s] interior minister said yesterday that ‘Ossetian looters’ will be done away with,” Irina Gagloyeva said. “Georgian media are accusing Ossetians of plundering their villages [in August],” she added.

She said that Georgia’s actions provided evidence that Tbilisi had not dropped its plans and that South Ossetian law enforcement agencies are discussing what security measures to take.

Earlier in the week the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “certain forces” in Georgia are intentionally escalating the situation in the Caucasus and trying to provoke a new armed conflict.

A car bomb went off last Friday in the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali, killing seven Russian peacekeepers. Georgia has denied any involvement in the bombing, accusing Russia of trying to delay its pullout from the buffer zone near South Ossetia.