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South Ossetia seeks Russian base

Published: 9:17PM Monday August 18, 2008 Source: Reuters

The leader of the breakaway region at the heart of the Georgia-Russia conflict said he would ask Moscow to station a military base on the territory of South Ossetia.
   
Asked in an interview if he would like a permanent Russian base in the region, South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity said:  "We will ask the leadership of the Russian Federation for there to be a Russian military base on the territory of South Ossetia because Russian citizens live here."
   
"We will ask the Russian leadership - it is their decision," he said.
   
Fighting erupted in South Ossetia after Georgia on August 7-8 tried to recapture the rebel region, sparking an international crisis as Russia mounted the biggest military deployment outside its borders since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.
   
International organisations such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have offered to send observers to the region.
   
But Kokoity, sometimes using emotional language, said he would not accept international observers in his region again.
   
"International observers will no longer be present on the territory of South Ossetia,"  Kokoity said. "We have no confidence in these international observers, in these people who corrupt the truth."
   
The OSCE had observers in the region until it pulled out when fighting started.
   
Russian-backed South Ossetia, which is not recognised internationally, broke away from central rule in a 1991-92 war.

South Ossetia government sacked

Eduard Kokoity, South Ossetia's self-styled president, fired his government and declared a month-long emergency to cope with the aftermath of an armed conflict with the central government. 
    
Kokoity has criticised his cabinet for not doing enough to help thousands of refugees by distributing aid, rebuilding smashed infrastructure and supplying shelter to those displaced by the conflict. 

"I consider the government was not working effectively so I signed the decree (to sack it)," he said.
   
"We have created an emergency commission to liquidate the consequences of the Georgian aggression. This is connected to the fact that several members of the government are incapable of acting in such a serious military situation."
   
Georgia sent troops to South Ossetia this month to regain control over the region. Russia crushed Georgian forces in about five days, drawing condemnation from the West.
   
Nearly 100,000 people have been driven from their homes by the conflict, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
   
The International Committee of the Red Cross has said up to half of South Ossetia's population of 70,000 have fled.
   
Relief agencies and Russia have sent aid to the conflict zone to help thousands of displaced people and help restore infrastructure, water and sanitation facilities. Russia has set up a refugee camp
   
The United States has provided more than $3.6 million in aid to Georgia.

Moscow has set up a refugee camp across the border in North Ossetia to care for an estimated 12,000 people.
   
"A commission has been formed and the government is being formed so that the population get humanitarian help and that the residents get what they need after the Georgian aggression," Kokoity said.
   
"The situation is getting more normal. We are working to restore the infrastructure and communal services that were destroyed by the Georgians, we are working to supply housing to those displaced by the conflict."
   
South Ossetians, ethnically different from Georgians, say they were forcibly absorbed into Georgia under Soviet rule and now want to exercise their right to self-determination.
   
Russia has vowed to pull out troops from the conflict zone on Monday under a French-brokered truce to end the fighting.

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