Russian Named South Ossetian Premier

Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia on Wednesday approved a former Russian tax official as its prime minister, prompting Georgian charges that Moscow has annexed the region after a war in August.

Aslanbek Bulatsev, a former tax chief in neighboring North Ossetia, was approved by the rebel region's parliament. South Ossetia has a long-term aim of uniting with North Ossetia.

In August, Georgian forces staged a bid to retake control of the pro-Russian enclave, which separatists have run since the early 1990s, but were crushed by Russia's ensuing military response.

Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvil said he was not surprised to hear a Russian official had become South Ossetia's prime minister.

"For the last few years, the [South Ossetian] government has been made up exclusively of Russians. This is a continuation of that trend," he said. "The Russians have been in charge and want to stay in charge. The locals don't have a voice."