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Mil Mi-8 helicopters (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
September 3, 2006 -- Authorities in South Ossetia say they shot down a Georgian military helicopter today, claiming the aircraft violated airspace that the separatist region claims as its own.
Separatist government spokeswoman Irina Gagloyeva said the Mi-8 helicopter was downed by an anti-aircraft battery near the village of Isakykau after failing to heed demands to change its route.
There were contradictory reactions from the Georgian side. In Tbilisi, Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Khizanishvili confirmed the downing of the helicopter, but he was subsequently contradicted by a local Georgian military commander, Paata Bedianashvili, who said a Georgian Mi-8 helicopter was fired upon but managed to return safely to base.
Former Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze (RFE/RL)
'NO OTHER WAY OUT': Georgia's parliament on February 15 called upon the government to review the 1992 agreement that put an end to the war with South Ossetia and secure the withdrawal of all Russian peacekeepers stationed in the separatist republic. Officials in Tbilisi have long accused the Russian soldiers of siding with the separatist forces and posing a threat to Georgia's national security. Russia has protested the Georgian vote, arguing that Tbilisi has no right unilaterally to amend the 1992 peace agreement. Georgia, in turn, says it has the right to do so.
RFE/RL's Georgian Service correspondent Nona Mchedlishvili asked former President EDUARD SHEVARDNADZE, who signed the agreement with his then Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, to comment on the dispute....(more)
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