A South Ossetian armed group of up to 200 men entered the Georgian village of Vanati in the Liakhva Gorge at dawn on July 8.
According to the administration of the governor of Shida Kartli, a Georgian group of about 40 interior troops deployed in the village, seeking to avoid a clash, did not resist the attack and surrendered their weapons. They have been sent to the capital of South Ossetia, Tskhinvali.
Governor of Shida Kartli Mikhail Kareli is in the village of Eredvi, where he is to meet with Svyatoslav Nabzdorov, commander of the Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zone.
Georgian State Minister for Conflict Settlement Georgy Khaindrava is to make a special statement on the situation in the Tskhinvali region, as the Tbilisi authorities prefer to call the rebel republic of South Ossetia.
Meanwhile, the Georgian population of South Ossetia is leaving their homes and moving in mini-buses to the neighbouring region of Shida Kartli. According to unofficial information from the law enforcement and security structures of Georgia, a unit of the Georgian Rapid Deployment Forces has been dispatched to the conflict zone.
Vyacheslav Sedov, chief spokesman of the Russian Defence Ministry, said the Russian peacekeepers deployed in the region are in no way connected with the incident in Vanati.
The law enforcement agencies of South Ossetia, the former autonomous region of Georgia, are holding an operation to expose and detain armed persons who are staying in the self-proclaimed republic without permission, Irina Gagloyeva, chair of the South Ossetian committee of information and the press, said by telephone. "The operation embraces several villages, from Eredvi to Zomkara. Armed persons without Ids, peacekeepers mandates or at least the passes of the Georgian Interior Troops are detained," said Gagloyeva.
She assured us that the operation was completely bloodless. According to Gagloyeva, "As of now, 30 persons who carried weapons have been detained."
At the same time, Georgian reports say that in the morning of July 8 a group of up to 200 armed men entered the village of Vanati in South Ossetia and disarmed the Georgian peacekeepers deployed there.
Gagloyeva explained that the Georgian side had not provided to the Tskhinvali authorities a list of Georgian peacekeepers deployed in South Ossetia. "Now they are trying to pass off all armed people as peacekeepers. There are about 2,000 armed men there, though the peacekeeping battalions of each side (Russia, Georgia, South Ossetia) should have no more than 500 men," she claims.
Gagloyeva also said it is not true that the Georgian population of South Ossetia is leaving the republic.
More than 3,500 people were detained during unprecedented mass protests that swept across all of Russia in support of Alexey Navalny on January 23