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Mikheil Saakashvili (file photo) (InterPressNews)
October 2, 2006 -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has accused Russia of overreacting to the arrest of four Russian Army officers for spying.
Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the arrests as "an act of state terrorism with hostage taking." Putin also described Georgia's action as reminiscent of the police state of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Late the same day, Saakashvili dismissed the harsh reaction. He said "it is an overreaction caused by nervousness that they have created themselves."
"Now, President Putin, I heard him calling the demise of the Soviet Union the greatest tragedy of the 20th century," Saakashvili said. "Well, it was the happiest day of my life, certainly, so this is something on which we cannot agree, as well I cannot agree on making some connection between us and any legacy of KGB type of Stalin's past."
Saakashvili also rejected a suggestion by Putin that Washington was "creating" crises to worsen ties between Russia and Georgia.
"We've been hearing statements lately: 'Oh this has been decided in Washington,'" Saakashvili said. "Well, I think [the U.S.] State Department made it very clear -- this is a bilateral issue between Georgia and Russia."
Russia recalled its ambassador from Tbilisi, evacuated most of its diplomatic and military staff from Georgia following the detention on September 27 of four of its army officers.