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OSCE Says Its Monitors Released By South Ossetia


MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Two OSCE monitors detained by South Ossetian security forces have been released, a spokeswoman for the OSCE mission in Georgia has said.

"I confirm it's over," the spokeswoman said. "The monitors are now returning to base."

The pro-Russian breakaway region had earlier detained several observers from the OSCE for illegally crossing the Georgian-South Ossetian border.

"OSCE representatives were detained on South Ossetian territory for illegal border crossing," separatist official Irina Gagloyeva said, without giving further details.

Since 1992, 28 military observers from the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have been based in Georgia and conducting patrols in South Ossetia.

But since Russia's brief war with Georgia last year, the separatist authorities have denied the observers access to their region and Moscow has blocked the renewal of the mission's mandate in Georgia.

"The acts by the OSCE are provocative," Interfax quoted the rebel region's leader Eduard Kokoity as saying.

In February, two OSCE monitors were briefly detained, then released after venturing into South Ossetia, which borders Russia to the north and Georgia to its south.