Ossetian militiamen join Russian regular army

BBC Monitoring

Ossetian militiamen join Russian regular army – Georgian TV Text of report by private Georgian Imedi TV on 14 October

[Presenter] Ossetians will serve in the Russian army. Ossetian riot police which is well-known for its brutality has become a part of the Russian regular army. A “Kronika” camera has filmed notorious criminals on the perimeter of the Georgian villages of the Akhalgori [District].

Today they are already wearing Russian soldiers’ uniform and are patrolling Georgian territory.

[Presenter] Moscow has confirmed the information, saying that Russia should control dangerous criminal groups in the [Georgian-Ossetian] conflict zone. [Our correspondent] Nodar Meladze will be speaking live about the danger the disguised Ossetian militiamen are posing to the civilian population [of the region]. Nodar, we are listening to you.

[Correspondent] The footage our viewers will see in the report was filmed in the vicinity of the village of Mosabruni. Hundreds of Georgians cross the place in the conflict zone every day. It emerged that members of a special purpose unit of the Ossetian separatists rather than Russian occupiers are checking documents of the residents of 56 villages. The so-called Ossetian militiamen are standing along with Russian troops on the checkpoints. Instead of their old uniform they are already wearing new uniforms of the Russian army and have new military ranks. In the name of Russian soldiers, fighters of the notoriously brutal Tskhinvali riot police are stationed on the perimeter of the Georgian villages. “Kronika” camera tracked about ten such fighters at the entrance to Akhalgori only. Those who had no time to change uniforms and continued to stand in the uniform of black masks [as heard], hid themselves as soon they saw the camera.

[Correspondent in Russian] Are there any Ossetians themselves in your battalion?

[Uncaptioned Russian servicemen in Russian] I cannot tell about the others but there are none in mine.

[Correspondent] I understand. And still there are [Ossetians here].

[Russian servicemen] Maybe. I do not know.

[Correspondent] Head of the checkpoint neither denies nor confirms that the Ossetian riot police joined the Russian army. However, Moscow did not hide the fact. The State Duma said that they prefer to control the most dangerous groups themselves so that armed people do not create problems for the Russian army.

[Russian MP Viktor Ilyukhin, speaking in Russian] it is better to put [them] in order, better to control [them] and govern them rather than leave them armed and, as they say, without control and management.

[Correspondent] Ossetian militiamen appeared in the Russian army through contract system. They have the lowest salaries and broad rights. By changing the uniform, their status changes too. Now they are no longer members of the gang formations but rather soldiers of the Russian army. Ossetian militiamen who are disguised in the military uniform are
basically working at strategic facilities, such as construction of military units on the territories adjacent to Georgian villages. At the moment Ossetian militiamen are building a new military unit at the entrance to Akhalgori.

[Correspondent] Russian military experts are saying that the Russian army stationed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia will be manned by militiamen and members of the Black Squad [as heard] in future although the military units will still be controlled by the Russians.

[Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer, speaking in Russian] It is quite legal to list them as contractors. There is no necessity to spend too much on them. They are ready to serve for less money. It is far more beneficial than bringing people from Russia. There is no need to build houses for them.

[Correspondent] Ossetian militiamen, [standing] at the Russian checkpoints in the vicinity of the Georgian villages, tend to hide, especially when international observers arrive. This is what happened when a Red Cross group arrived in Akhalgori. However, in this case the so-called militiamen had no time to hide their cars .

[Correspondent] Moscow has officially confirmed reports that besides the villages adjacent [to the conflict zone], Ossetian militiamen will be stationed on the regular checkpoints that will be operating in the Java District and the villages of the Tskhinvali Region. Those in the capital of the Russian Federation are saying today that the regular army units that are due to be stationed in [Abkhazia’s] Gali District, will presumably be manned by Abkhaz separatists.

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