Caucasus: Ossetians Take Over a Village

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Nov 9 21:57:47 UTC 2008

 November 10, 2008
Ossetians Take Over a Village

TBILISI, Georgia — South Ossetian forces on Sunday began reinforcing a
border in the village of Perevi, an ethnically Georgian community that
has been absorbed into South Ossetian territory despite a Russian
pledge to withdraw to the enclave's old boundaries. Around 1,000
people live in Perevi, which forms a topographical gateway to South
Ossetia on its mountainous western border. Last month, when it became
clear that Perevi would not be returned to Georgian control, residents
here grumbled about the presence of Russian forces, but said their
real fear was of reprisals from their Ossetian neighbors. Georgian
authorities said Sunday that ethnic violence could follow if Ossetian
authorities are allowed to take charge.

The European Union issued a statement asserting that Perevi "is
clearly located to the west of the administrative boundary line of
South Ossetia."
But Eduard Kokoity, the president of South Ossetia, said Perevi
belongs to the separatist government in Tskhinvali. "The Georgian
leaders must have serious problems with geography. They do not even
know where the borders of their own state are," he told Interfax, the
Russian news agency. "We are not laying claims on territory which does
not belong to us."

Eteri Kusiani, a nurse who lives in Perevi and works at a hospital in
Georgian-controlled territory, said tensions have been mounting for
several days. She realized Ossetians were in control because her
teenage son was stopped as his bus crossed the checkpoint. Ossetian
soldiers asked all the young men on the bus stand in a line and
produce identification, she said. "They are checking all the cars to
see if anyone is bringing guns to the village," she said. Ms.
Vartanyan reported from Tbilisi, and Ms. Barry from Moscow.

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