Russian Troops Leave Gori

Georgian officials say pullout really happening
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2008 10:30 AM CDT
A Russian tank passes by the village of Khurvaleti, Georgia, Thursday, Aug. 21, 2008.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
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(Newser) – Russian troops are finally leaving Gori, Georgian officials said today, with Russia promising that by tomorrow all Russian ground forces would be confined to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia intends to keep more than 2,000 troops stationed in the breakaway regions, which Georgia decries as unlawful “annexation.” A US general, meanwhile, criticized the Russian withdrawal, saying, “If they are moving, it is at a snail's pace.”

But in Gori, villagers were happy just to have the Russians out of their town. “It's such a relief,” said one 68-year-old resident. “I was waiting for this day and finally I see the Russians leaving my home town.” But the Russian soldiers, who dispensed humanitarian aid on the way out, were unapologetic. “Russia is a powerful country,” said one. “We showed the whole world just how powerful and strong we are.”