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EU watchdog sees no sign of alleged provocative march in Georgia

(Xinhua)

09:43, August 24, 2011

TBILISI, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- European Union observers in Georgia said they have seen no evidence that the South Caucasus country was preparing for a large-scale march near South Ossetia, local media reported Tuesday.

"We have not seen anything," Steve Bird, spokesman of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia, was quoted by the civil.ge news service as saying.

The remarks were made in response to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement that some 3,000 Georgians and Chechen refugees would march toward a checkpoint in South Ossetia on Friday.

Also on Tuesday, a senior Georgian Interior Ministry official was quoted by local media as rejecting the Russian statement as "groundless."

"This is absolutely groundless and absurd accusation and we cannot perceive it seriously," said Shota Utiashvili, chief of the analytical department under the interior ministry.

South Ossetia pronounced independence on Aug. 26, 2008, soon after a conflict between Georgia and Russia, and was immediately recognized by Moscow.

Georgia claims sovereignty over the region, which is known in Georgian as Tskhinvali.

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