Russian Regions Offer to Send in Volunteers

The leader of the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia said on Saturday that there had been offers from Russian North Caucasus republics to send volunteers to his region, where there were exchanges of gunfire from Friday evening to Saturday mourning.

"We are primarily counting on our own resources, but we have already had offers from many people, there have been several telephone conversations during the day and there were some last night - with the leader of [the Russian republic of] North Ossetia, Teimuraz Mamsurov, - and we've had calls from all our friends in North Caucasus republics who are ready to send volunteer units to South Ossetia," South Ossetian President Eduard Kokoity told reporters in Beslan, North Ossetia.

But the South Ossetian authorities would not welcome spontaneous arrivals of volunteers, he said.

"We want to organize this in a normal way in order to avoid losses among them as well because war is a difficult and tragic thing, the lives of young people are in danger, and we don't want Russian, Kabardino-Balkarian or Karachai mothers to put on mourning colors because of South Ossetia. We want peace, but if we are left with no other alternative, we will stand our ground to the end," Kokoity said.

Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkesia, where the Karachais are one of the ethnic groups, are Russian North Caucasus republics.

[Source: Interfax, Vladikavkaz, Russia, 02Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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