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Georgian Lawmakers Say Russia Siding With South Ossetia

13 August 2004 -- Georgian lawmakers accused Russia today of siding with the separatist republic of South Ossetia and said the mandate of its peacekeepers in the region should be reviewed.

A declaration passed in a 117-3 vote blames Russia for representing "one of the conflicting parties that is doing everything in its power to maintain [a] dangerous status quo."

Also today, Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania reportedly came under fire while traveling to an ethnic Georgian village east of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali.

Russian peacekepers deployed in the area did not confirm the incident. But Georgian parliamentary speaker Nino Burdjanadze blamed them for failing to enforce security in the area.

"This fact alone gives us serious reasons to think carefully and make certain conclusions, especially because everyone -- including the Russian peacekeepers and the [South] Ossetian side -- knew that the prime minister and State Minister Giorgi Khaindrava were in [South Ossetia] and that they were traveling around the region," she said.

Fresh fighting erupted overnight in the separatist province, leaving at least three Georgians and three South Ossetians wounded.

Tensions between Tbilisi and Tskhinvali have been mounting for months since Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili vowed to restore control over the breakaway region.

(AP/Novosti-Gruziya/Georgian TV)

For the latest news on the tensions in South Ossetia, see RFE/RL's webpage on Ossetia.

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