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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 October 2007, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
'Boney M' on Georgia's frontline
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Georgia has hired a member of 1970s pop group Boney M, famous for songs like Daddy Cool and Rasputin, in its fight for control of breakaway South Ossetia.

Marcia Barrett played a concert in a small frontline village not far from the rebel capital Tskhinvali.

Thousands of people came in cars, buses, trucks and on foot through a mountain pass skirting separatist territory to hear her sing.

The rebels have close ties with Russia and are trying to secede from Georgia.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili told the BBC he hoped the music would persuade people to lay down their arms.

"We hope that we'll lure out people from their trenches, force them to drop [their] Kalashnikovs, come here and dance with the others and understand that nothing is as nice as peace, nothing is as nice as reconciliation," Mr Saakashvili said.

"This place was only famous for killings, violence, crime past and present. And now it's like adding some new thing, it's looking much more colourful, much less violent, just normal, and being normal is such a novelty here," he added.

'Peaceful life'

Ms Barrett said she did not know much about the situation in this remote region of the former Soviet Union but said she wanted to promote peace.

"Because it's a peace festival I really feel honoured to be invited to come and take part," she told the BBC.

The concert took place in Tamarasheni, a village of around 500 people that remains loyal to Georgia.

Our correspondent says the event was planned by the Georgian authorities to show the South Ossetian separatists that life would be better and more fun if they returned to government control.

In the words of a Georgian official, he says, peaceful life resumes when people sing songs.

Gun battles

The village is in the middle of the conflict and witnesses regular gun battles despite a ceasefire.

All around the area are checkpoints manned by Georgian and Ossetian forces as well as Russian peacekeeping troops.

The war that erupted when South Ossetia broke away from Georgia after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union cost thousands of lives.

Although the concert was billed as a Boney M gig and Marcia Barrett's band was introduced as Boney M, two groups also featuring former members of Boney M are touring under the same name.

Former Boney M vocalist Liz Mitchell had nothing to do with the concert in South Ossetia.

The legal rights to the name Boney M continue to be a matter of controversy.

Boney M have a loyal following in the former USSR. Their songs were among the few approved under Communist rule.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The music of Boney M





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