Russia accuses Georgia of trying to discredit peacekeepers

Moscow has accused Tbilisi of trying to discredit Russian peacekeepers by claiming they may have been involved in a shoot-out between Georgia and its breakaway republic South Ossetia.

There was a series of shootings on Friday night between residential neighbourhoods in the Ossetian capital Tskhinvali and a Georgian village.

"The information spread by the Georgian media is a blatant lie. Its purpose it to mislead local residents and the international community and to discredit the peacekeeping mission, its Russian battalion in particular. Russian peacekeepers did not take part in the shootings. Any such statements are lies," Vladimir Ivanov, Spokesman for Peacekeeping Mission, said.

Six people in South Ossetia were killed and at least 13 wounded during the attacks. The joint peacekeeping force consisting of Russian, Georgian and North Ossetian troops say the shoot-out was instigated by Georgia.

South Ossetian authorities say violence erupted when Georgian snipers killed three people. It then escalated into mortar fire.

"The city of Tskhinvali came under fire. The weapons which were used belong to Georgian peacekeeping forces, police units stationed in the conflict zone and Special Forces moved here especially for this purpose from inside Georgia around two weeks ago," Mikhail Mindzaev, South Ossetian Interior Minister, said.

[Source: Russia Today, Moscow, 02Aug08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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