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EU Monitors In South Ossetia To Discuss Man's Detention

The EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM) in Georgia has entered Tshkinvali for the first time to discuss the detention of a South Ossetian man by Georgian police, RFE/RL's Georgian and Russian Services report.

Boris Chochiev, South Ossetia's presidential envoy on postconflict settlement, invited five EUMM representatives to Tskhinvali, where they met on January 5 with officials from Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region and Russian military authorities.

South Ossetian officials said they invited the EU monitors "as an exception" to let them examine the circumstances of the case of Gennady Pliev. They have previously refused EUMM requests to enter South Ossetian territory.

The Georgian Interior Ministry confirmed today that Pliev, a South Ossetian resident who also has a Russian passport, was arrested on charges of illegal arms possession on January 4.

South Ossetian authorities say Pliev was kidnapped by Georgian special forces in Tskhinvali, which is controlled by South Ossetian and Russian military forces.

But Georgian authorities say Pliev was arrested after he approached a Georgian police post near the city armed and in a drunken state. Pliev has reportedly been sentenced to two months of preliminary detention.

South Ossetia and Georgia's second breakaway region of Abkhazia declared their independence in August 2008.

Russia recognized their independence and Russian soldiers have been guarding the two self-proclaimed republics' border since then.