Tuesday, Aug 19, 2008
Russian forces are still in Georgia in defiance of calls from the West to withdraw quickly.
Armed Georgian policemen and Russian soldiers guarded separate checkpoints a few hundred metres apart in the village of Igoeti, less than 30 miles from the capital Tbilisi.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said the army’s withdrawal had started, but witnesses in the central town of Gori saw little evidence of a pullout.
Fighting broke out ten days ago when Georgian forces tried to recapture South Ossetia, which broke free from Tbilisi in a war during the 1990s. Russia launched an overwhelming counterattack deep inside Georgia to support the separatists.
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The US and France urged a speedy Russian withdrawal on Monday in line with a ceasefire accord but observers said the appeal has had little visible impact.
A convoy of Russian armoured personnel carriers smashed through a Georgian police roadblock at a sidestreet leading off from the main road through Igoeti.