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South Ossetia Appoints Former Russian Official As PM

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia has approved a former Russian official as its prime minister, prompting Georgian charges that Moscow has effectively annexed the region after a war in August.

The official, approved by the rebel region's parliament, was Aslanbek Bulatsev, a former tax chief in the neighboring Russian province of North Ossetia. South Ossetia has a long-term aim of uniting with North Ossetia.

"Now the crisis has passed we need to come together and work hard," South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity told parliament, according to South Ossetia's official website,

Georgian government forces staged a big to retake control of the pro-Russian South Ossetia enclave in August which separatists have run since the early 1990s.

Russia sent troops and tanks which pushed Georgia out of the area. Moscow has since recognized South Ossetia's independence, pledged millions of dollars to help it rebuild, and promised to maintain military bases to protect it any further military action by the Georgian central government.

Georgia accuses Russia of annexing South Ossetia, and Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said he was not surprised to hear a Russian official had become South Ossetia's prime minister.

"For the last few years the [South Ossetian] government has been made up exclusively of Russians. This is a continuation of that trend," he said. "The Russians have been in charge and want to stay in charge. The locals don't have a voice."