Rebel South Ossetia ‘to demolish Georgian villages’: report
The breakaway region of South Ossetia is to demolish abandoned Georgian villages whose population was driven out by the war there in 2008, Georgian media reported on Wednesday.
The region’s leader Leonid Tibilov said that houses in previously Georgian-populated villages, which were damaged during the fighting or torched afterwards by militias, would be torn down.
“We plan to clear these villages. These ruins, of course, do not look very good,” Tibilov said in comments published by the website of Rustavi-2 television station.
He said that the villages would also be stripped of their Georgian names.
“These names do not need to be conserved because the settlements will not exist,” he said.
Before the 2008 war, which saw Russian troops push deep into Georgia to crush Tbilisi’s military attempt to regain control over South Ossetia, the tiny region had a large ethnic Georgian minority.
Georgian officials described the plan as a continuation of wartime “ethnic cleansing” and blamed South Ossetia’s backer Russia.
“The destruction of the remaining villages is a continuation of the policy of ethnic cleansing,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergi Kapanadze told Georgian television.
“Full responsibility for this rests with the Russian side,” he said.
After the war that stunned the West, Russia recognised South Ossetia and the fellow Georgian rebel region of Abkhazia as independent, a move that has been followed by only a handful of other far-flung states.