South Ossetia detains European observers

MOSCOW  – The pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia has detained several observers from the OSCE for illegally crossing the Georgian-South Ossetian border, a separatist official told Reuters on Tuesday.

“OSCE representatives were detained on South Ossetian territory for illegal border crossing,” Irina Gagloyeva said, without giving further details. She was unable to say how many observers had been held.

An OSCE spokeswoman confirmed separately that two OSCE military observers had been detained by South Ossetian forces.

Since 1992, 28 military observers from the Vienna-based Organisation 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.

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