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Russia: We did not fire on presidential motorcade

  • Story Highlights
  • Russian peacekeepers, South Ossetia deny involvement in shooting
  • Leaders' motorcade was not hit, and there were no injuries
  • Ministry: Motorcade was passing a checkpoint near South Ossetia
  • The shots were fired from Russian-controlled territory, ministry officials say
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(CNN) -- Russia and South Ossetia have strongly denied news reports that a motorcade carrying the presidents of Georgia and Poland came under fire, calling the claims "a provocation" meant to destabilize the region.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, said there were "unpredictable people" in the area.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, said there were "unpredictable people" in the area.

"This is a real provocation," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists on Monday. "It is not the first time that such things have happened: First they mastermind everything themselves and then accuse the Russian or the Ossetian side."

Eduard Kokoity, president of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, added: "Today's event was a deliberate provocative act of the Georgian and Polish presidents targeted at regional destabilization."

Kokoity made his comments to the Russian news agency, Interfax.

The motorcade, carrying Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Polish President Lech Kaczynski, was passing a checkpoint near Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region -- site of intense conflict between Russian and Georgian troops in August -- when shots were fired Sunday, according to the Georgian Interior Ministry.

The motorcade was not hit and there were no injuries, the Georgian Interior Ministry said. No other shooting was reported in the area.

The shots were fired from Russian-controlled territory as the motorcade passed, the ministry said.

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Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin denied the gunfire came from its army positions.

"This is one more instance of wishful thinking on the part of Georgia," he told reporters.

After the incident, Saakashvili told reporters he would not have taken his Polish counterpart into danger intentionally and that the incident showed "you are dealing with unpredictable people" in the disputed area.

Kokoity, the South Ossetian president, countered that the Polish and Georgian presidents need to answer questions whether they informed European Union monitors of their trip.

Tensions have remained high in the area since fighting between Russian and Georgian troops broke out in August.


Georgia launched a campaign against South Ossetia, a Russian-backed separatist territory, on August 7. The following day, Russian tanks, troops and armored vehicles poured into South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian territory, Abkhazia, advancing into Georgian cities outside the rebel regions.

The two sides blamed each other for starting the conflict and have accused each other of a variety of offenses leading up to and during the fighting, including ethnic cleansing.

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