Russia set to exit Georgia, South Ossetia declares emergency (Lead)

August 18th, 2008 - 2:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow/Tbilisi (Georgia), Aug 18 (DPA) Georgians Monday were awaiting a promised pullout of Russian troops as the leadership of South Ossetia sacked its local government and declared temporary authoritarian rule. Russian troops as of Monday morning were still holding positions about 35 km north of the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, and near the Georgian cities of Poti and Senaki on the Black Sea coast.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Sunday announced Russian withdrawals would begin at midday Monday.

The Georgian government has accused the Russians of acting in bad faith in the past, given a mere three kilometre retreat Thursday.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the weekend also accused Russia of “acting in bad faith” and violating a ceasefire.

The president of Georgia’s pro-Russian separatist region of South Ossetia dismissed his government Monday and proclaimed a state of emergency, days after Georgia and Russia signed a six-point EU-mediated peace plan aimed at defusing the crisis in the Caucasus.

“I have signed three decrees, including one on the resignation of the government, another on proclamation of a state of emergency in South Ossetia and the third on setting up an emergency committee to settle the consequences of the Georgian aggression,” President Eduard Kokoity told Russia’s Vesti-24 television.

The minister claimed his government was too slow in distributing humanitarian aid to the residents of South Ossetia, Russia’s Echo Moskvy radio reported.

The South Ossetia capital, Tskhinvali, as well as surrounding villages were ravaged in a Georgia attack August 8 and an ensuing counterattack by Russia.

Tens of thousands of residents fled last week over the border to neighbouring Russia.

On Sunday, Medvedev signed the EU-brokered peace deal, a day after Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

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