Russian troops finally leave South Ossetia border post

Russian troops have pulled out of a village on the Georgian border, just outside breakaway South Ossetia, which had been occupied in spite of Georgian and EU objections for more than two years since a brief war over the breakaway region.

"The Russians left. There's not a single Russian soldier in Perevi any more," said the Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili.

Pro-Western Georgia had condemned the Russian presence in Perevi as a violation of the ceasefire brokered after their war in August 2008, when Russia crushed a Georgian military assault on pro-Russian South Ossetia.

Mr Utiashvili said a "small contingent" of Georgian interior ministry forces had moved into the village, alongside unarmed European Union monitors. He said the Russian troops had moved to the other side of South Ossetia's de facto border.

Russia had said it would withdraw from Perevi after the latest round of internationally mediated talks in Geneva last week, describing it as an "act of goodwill". The EU monitoring mission deployed after the war had repeatedly called on Russian forces to leave Perevi, a village of just 1,000 people that lies on a small mountain access road to South Ossetia's western flank.

Russia recognised South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent states under Russian military protection after the 2008 war, ignoring opposition from Georgia's Western allies.

The two regions threw off Tbilisi's rule in the early 1990s.

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