Refugees from Pankisi Gorge begin to arrive in South Ossetia

Refugees from the Pankisi Gorge have begun to arrive in South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoita, head of South Ossetia (unrecognized republic on Georgia's territory), said at a press conference in Moscow on Friday. The Chechen section of the Russian-Georgian border runs through the Pankisi Gorge. Forced migrants from Chechnya, as well as a large number of Chechen gunmen are in the Gorge at present.

According to Kokoita's estimate, altogether about 100 Ossetian families living in the Pankisi Gorge and other parts of Georgia move to South Ossetia. The first groups of refugees have been put up in a sanatorium in Tskhinvali, capital of the republic.

The refugees appeared as a result of the discriminatory policy of the Georgian authorities and the pressure exerted on them on the part of the bandit formations in the Pankisi Gorge," stressed Kokoita.

He said that the authorities of South Ossetia will do their utmost for the refugees to remain on its territory and not to move to other areas. Kokoita noted at the same time that the flow of refugees kept growing and "it cannot be ruled out that Russia, too, will soon have to receive Ossetian refugees from the Pankisi Gorge."

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