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Georgian President Decries Attack On Russian General

Brussels, 7 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili today denounced a bomb attack against a Russian general in Georgia as an attempt to harm improving relations between Tbilisi and Moscow.

Saakashvili, who made his remarks today during a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, said the attack in which General Aleksandr Studenikin was lightly injured yesterday was perhaps carried out by forces bent on provoking Russian troops in Georgia.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko, speaking on state television, also blamed the attack on forces opposed to improving Moscow-Tbilisi ties: "This criminal act, perpetrated in the center of [Tbilisi], fills us with deep indignation. There is no doubt its aim is to undermine the development of Russian-Georgian relations. We demand that the thoroughest investigation be conducted so that the culprits are searched for and sentenced."

In Moscow today, Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Baramidze said the attack may be linked to Adjaria, an autonomous region with close ties to Moscow over which Tbilisi is seeking to assert its authority.

Studenikin was injured as he walked from the Russian military headquarters in Tbilisi to his home near the base. He sustained minor arm, leg, and face injuries.

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