Sunday, December 14, 2008

Russia retakes Georgian village near South Ossetia

Russian troops retook a village near the breakaway region of South Ossetia Saturday just hours after withdrawing, Georgia's Interior Ministry and European Union peace observers said.

The move drew criticism from Georgia, the EU and U.S. Senator John Kerry, who was on a half-day visit to Tbilisi.

Georgian police had already moved into Perevi on Saturday to remove Russian-built roadblocks when Russian troops and helicopters unexpectedly returned, said Shota Utiashvili, an Interior Ministry spokesman.

"They left, and we went in with about 40 people to remove the roadblocks," he said. "While they were doing this, the Russians deployed a battalion of special forces with helicopters and armor and told the Georgian policemen to get out immediately," he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry refused immediate comment and South Ossetian officials could not be immediately reached.

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