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Russia Still Investigating Georgian Missile Claim

Weapons experts inspect the remains of the missile in Tbilisi (AFP) August 17, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Moscow has dismissed the findings of international investigators who said an aircraft from Russia recently violated Georgian airspace and dropped a missile.

Lieutenant General Igor Khvorov, who was in Georgia with a team of Russian military experts to investigate the August 6 incident, said today that no aircraft violated Georgian airspace from Russia.

Khvorov also suggested today that Georgia might have planted the missile itself.

"There was no border crossing by an aircraft," Khvorov told reporters after visiting the site where Georgian officials say the missile landed. "As far as the missile is concerned, I cannot make any conclusions since the information is contradictory," he added.

Khvorov made his comments at the conclusion of the Russian experts' two-day visit to Georgia.

International Report

RFE/RL's Georgian Service reports that the Russian team met with Georgian Defense Ministry officials and examined evidence gathered by an international group of military experts from Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, and the United States.

They also toured the site where Georgia says the missile landed and visited the Interior Ministry's headquarters, where remnants of the missile are being stored.

In a report issued on August 15, international investigators said a single aircraft flew from Russian to Georgian airspace and back three times on August 6, and discharged a Russian-designed KH-58 missile. The missile, which did not explode, landed near a village close to Georgia's border with its breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi on August 16, Russian ambassador-at-large Valery Kenyaikin said that Moscow did not find the international group's evidence convincing.

He also said the Russian team presented evidence that refuted the team's findings.

"The documents handed to the Georgian side show -- and I hope prove -- the absence of any information or elements [of information] testifying to the violation of Georgian airspace by Russia," Kenyaikin said.

Russia Blocs UN Statement

Georgia has called on the UN Security Council to hold a special session to discuss the issue.

On August 16, the United States, which backs Georgia's call for a
special session, attempted to have the Security Council issue a
statement on the alleged incident. Russia, however, blocked the move,
calling it "premature."

Georgia's Road To The West

Georgia's Road To The West
Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze giving a presentation at RFE/RL's Prague broadcasting center (RFE/RL)

BETWEEN RUSSIA AND THE WEST: Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze told an RFE/RL briefing that her country is under intense pressure from Russia.


Listen to the entire briefing (about 55 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media


Georgian Speaker Reflects On Regional Relations

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EU Envoy Touts Georgian Confidence-Building Measures


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