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Russian soldiers head to South Ossetia to protect republic’s border

Many South Ossetian refugees have returned to their homes since Russia started to protect the republic’s borders. Russian soldiers headed to the frontier under a deal agreed in April. Residents already feel more secure.

40-year-old Nodar Tasoev is a South Ossetian resident. He left his village when it was under Georgian rule.

“They were always mocking me because I'm Ossetian. It became impossible to live here and I left,” Nodar says.

He returned around 7 months ago, when Russian border guards were posted along the frontier and now the village feels secure again.

The guards arrived under a deal agreed between Russia and South Ossetia. It was signed after Georgia’s attempt to seize South Ossetia was repelled by Russian troops. Moscow later recognized the republic’s independence and vowed to protect it.

Signs of Georgia's aggression are literally on every stretch of the South Ossetian border. The first civilian victims in August 2008 were in a village right on the border. Today on the outskirts there is a Russian border post. Twenty more military posts like this one will soon appear along with it.

At the moment, the guards have to live in tents, 500 meters from a construction site. A hundred builders brought in from Chechnya are also there, and this kind of project is not new to them.

”We've built such outposts in Chechnya – we know how to do it. This project is just a little bit different – more complicated. We are planning to finish it by the end of 2010 and it's 100% real,” says builder Ali Ustarkhanov.

The frontline gardens are perfect shelter for smugglers trying to cross from Georgia into South Ossetia. Since April, when they were first deployed, a number have already been detained trying to enter illegally.

“This area is difficult to cross, especially in bad weather, and there is a large network of detour roads which ease illegal actions,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Pavel Bazhok, serving as a border guard.

Bricks and mortar will soon take the place of the tents. Meanwhile yet another group of soldiers is on its way, ready to protect the South Ossetian border.