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South Ossetia Said To Tighten Restrictions on Ethnic Georgians

Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region plans to tighten restrictions on freedom of movement for ethnic Georgians in the Akhalgori district.

Media reports in Georgia cited separatist authorities in South Ossetia as saying that as of January 1, 2015, the existing permits necessary for local Georgians to travel to Tbilisi-controlled proper will be replaced by South Ossetian "passports."

The reports said that to obtain such a passport, local Georgians must renounce their Georgian citizenship as well as refugee status.

The breakaway region's de-facto government also warned that those who refuse to renounce Georgian citizenship will have to abandon their houses in Akhalgori.

The Akhalgori District, mainly populated by ethnic Georgians, came under the full control of the separatist authorities in South Ossetia after Russian-Georgian military conflict over the region in August 2008.

Russia defied the West by recognizing South Ossetia as an independent country after the war and maintaining a strong military presence there.