South Ossetia admits post-war reconstruction failures
The leader of rebel South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, admitted on Friday that initial attempts to rebuild after the war between Georgia and Russia in the disputed region in 2008 were unsuccessful.
In an interview with the South Ossetian official news agency Res, Kokoity said the first Russian-funded post-war reconstruction plan "essentially failed to do all the work".
"This caused criticism not only in our republic but also from the leadership of the Russian Federation," he said.
Some residents of the tiny Russian-backed breakaway region have been angered by the slow pace of reconstruction since the conflict more than two years ago.
Local critics have blamed institutional corruption and mismanagement of financial aid, while Russian media have also reported concerns about the alleged disappearance of some of Moscow's aid money.
Kokoity responded by promising that a new reconstruction plan would ensure that all the people made homeless by the war would be rehoused, although he warned that reviving the region completely would take time.
"When I hear statements by some demagogues that they would be able to rebuild the republic in a few months, I understand that these are empty words, because it's unrealistic," he said in the interview.
Moscow has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to South Ossetia since the war in August 2008, which saw Russian troops pour across the border into Georgia to repel a Georgian attempt to seize back the disputed region.
The Kremlin has also signed a deal to maintain military bases in South Ossetia, which Western-backed Georgia has described as an "occupied territory" run by Russian-sponsored "puppet leaders" such as Kokoity.
South Ossetia and another rebel Georgian region, Abkhazia, were controversially recognised by Russia as independent states after the war -- a move which has so far only been followed by Nicaragua, Venezuela and the tiny Pacific island state of Nauru.
© 2010 AFP