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    Russia to keep recovered Georgian weapons - military prosecutor

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    Russia will not return the weapons and military hardware its troops collected after Georgian forces abandoned them following their August 8 offensive on South Ossetia, Russia's chief military prosecutor said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not return the weapons and military hardware its troops collected after Georgian forces abandoned them following their August 8 offensive on South Ossetia, Russia's chief military prosecutor said Wednesday.

    "I believe that the hardware and weapons, which were used for military actions against our peacekeepers as well as for the massacre of unarmed peaceful citizens, cannot be returned. This is not the way it has to be done," prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said in an interview to be published Thursday in the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily.

    The prosecutor said that in line with existing norms and regulations all abandoned weapons would be collected, counted and stored at Russian military installations.

    Then, he said, depending on the state of a weapon, it would be destroyed or recommended for further use.

    "Our main task for now is to compile a full and objective list of the weapons so that they cannot be stolen or used against civilians," Fridinsky added.

    Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy chief of the Russian military's general staff, said last week that Georgia had pursued a program to increase its military capability over the past few years.

    According to the Russian military, since 2005, Georgian tank numbers increased from 98 to 183, armored vehicles from 83 to 134, artillery pieces from 96 to 238, combat helicopters from three to nine and warplanes from seven to nine.

    Georgia attacked South Ossetia on August 8 in an attempt to regain control over the separatist republic, which split from Tbilisi in the early 1990s. Most people living in South Ossetia have Russian citizenship and Moscow subsequently launched an operation to "force Georgia to accept peace." The operation was concluded on August 12.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed decrees Tuesday recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states and called on other countries to follow suit.

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