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Georgia Criticizes Russian Troops In South Ossetia

A soldier takes aim in South Ossetia (file) (AFP) 20 January 2006 -- Georgian lawmakers today stepped up their criticism of Russia's peacekeeping contingent in South Ossetia.

The deputy chairman of the parliament's legal committee, Giga Bokeria, accused Russia of using its peacekeeping mandate to exert "political pressure" on Tbilisi.

Other pro-government lawmakers said parliament would wait until the Georgian government reports on the activities of Russian troops before parliament possibly demands their withdrawal next month.

In comments made to Georgia's Imedi television, Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili today pledged to provide "evidence that Russian soldiers are involved in arms smuggling and terrorist acts."

Earlier this week (18 January), the Georgian Foreign Ministry accused Russia of shipping weapons and ammunitions to South Ossetia. Tskhinvali today denied the charge.

Russian peacekeepers have been deployed in South Ossetia since 1992.

(Imedi TV, Civil Georgia, Prime News, Novosti-Gruziya)