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Georgia Says Bus Driver Detained By Russians In South Ossetia

TBILISI -- The Georgian Foreign Ministry says Russian soldiers have detained an ethnic Georgian in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The soldiers are holding Ramaz Makasarashvili, a bus driver from the Georgian village of Djvari whose route connects the ethnic-Georgian inhabited Perevi, in South Ossetia, with villages in Georgia proper.

Nodar Abjandadze, the council chairman in the Sachkher district, confirmed to RFE/RL that Makasarashvili was detained by Russian soldiers and taken to the main South Ossetian city, Tskhinvali.

South Ossetian officials said Makasarashvili was arrested for illegally crossing the border.

The incident occurred as Thomas Hammerberg, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, held talks with South Ossetian authorities on the possible release of four Georgian teenagers detained earlier this month by Russian soldiers on the Georgian-South Ossetian boundary, also on charges of illegally crossing the border.

South Ossetia and Georgia's other breakaway territory, Abkhazia, declared their independence from Georgia in August 2008 after a five-day
Russian-Georgian war in South Ossetia.

Russia and two Latin American countries have recognized the regions as independent states.