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Georgia dismisses Russian spy claims as 'provocation'

RIA Novosti

16/05/2008 16:42 TBILISI, May 16 (RIA Novosti) - The Georgian Interior Ministry has dismissed as a 'provocation' Russian reports that a Georgian intelligence service agent had been detained in southern Russia on Friday.

A Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) source said Ramzan Turkoshvili, a Russian national born in Georgia, was detained in the North Caucasus in southern Russia. Turkoshvili, who lives in Chechnya, admitted he had previously worked for the Georgian intelligence services, and received money for his services.

"This is a primitive provocation, the Georgian Interior Ministry has nothing to do with this person," spokesman Shota Khizanishvili told the Novosti-Georgia agency, adding that such provocations have become more frequent recently.

The source said the detention is confirmation that Georgia's intelligence services are involved in subversive terrorist activities in the North Caucasus.

According to the FSB source, Turkoshvili was in charge of organizing meetings and arranging contacts between Georgian intelligence service personnel and active members of illegal armed units in Russia.

Sporadic terrorist attacks and militant clashes are still common in Russia's North Caucasus republics, although the active phase of the Kremlin campaign against militants in Chechnya is officially over.

Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have drastically deteriorated since the Kremlin called for closer ties between Moscow and the two Georgian breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in mid-April.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and some 3,000 in Georgian-South Ossetian hostilities. Georgia is looking to regain control over the two de facto independent republics.

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