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Incident with peacekeepers in Georgia a provocation - command

RIA Novosti

18/05/2008 18:42 MOSCOW, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - The incident with Russian peacekeepers detained in western Georgia is a provocation, an aide to the Collective Peacekeeping Force commander in the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict zone said on Sunday.

Alexander Diordiyev said Russian peacekeepers were redeploying hardware in the southern security zone near the village of Urta on the night of May 17-18 when Georgian law-enforcement officers blocked the road to the peacekeepers' armored personnel carrier and fuel tanker truck.

Soon after that, a damaged Volga car approached the scene and the Georgian police claimed that the car had been damaged by the Russian peacekeepers, Diordiyev said, adding that force was used against the peacekeepers.

The Russian peacekeepers were released several hours after the incident.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another rebel province, 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, and accuses Russia of trying to annex them.

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