The self-styled president of South Ossetia has said Georgian refugees who fled the enclave will not be allowed to return home.
The comments by Eduard Kokoity feature in an interview with the Russian newspaper “Kommersant.”
Kokoity and Sergei Bagapsh, the separatist leader of Abkahzia, are determined to win international recognition for the independence they have declared from Georgia. Both were received by Russia’s leaders on Thursday in a strong show of support from the Kremlin.
Before Tbilisi’s offensive and Russia’s military response, Georgians made up around a third of South Ossetia’s population. Most people in the war-shattered region are ethnically distinct from Georgians. Many have Russian passports.
Moscow says it is not against the deployment of international peacekeepers. But, according to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the South Ossetians and Abkhaz people only trust Russian forces to prevent further conflict.