Source Pravda.Ru

Ivanov: Status of militants in South Ossetia cannot be defined

It is impossible to define the status of armed formations in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area.

"Peacemakers in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area have repeatedly confronted armed formations, whose members refused to produce any papers. They either had no papers at all or were afraid to show them," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said Thursday.

He stressed that Russia demanded strict compliance with the peacemaking forces' mandate and presence of only authorised persons in the conflict area.

Only 1,500 armed persons must be in the area, Mr. Ivanov believes. "Not more, not less - by 500 in the three peacekeeping battalions manned by Russians, Ossetians and Georgians. All the rest must be withdrawn from the conflict zone," the minister said.

He called ungrounded Georgian accusations of the Russian peacemakers. "When the Russian peacemakers and General Svyatoslav Nabzdorov [the peacekeeping force commander] are accused, this is in fact passing the buck," the minister said.

South Ossetia, proclaimed its independence from Georgia in 1992. Since that time, the situation in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict area has been supervised by the peacemaking force and the Mixed Control Commission including representatives of Russia, Georgia, South Ossetia and North Ossetia (a republic within Russia, where the bulk of the Ossetians live).